Taking care: We recognize this news release may contain information that is difficult for many and that our efforts to honour Survivors and families may act as an unwelcome reminder for those who have suffered hardships through generations of government policies that were harmful to Indigenous Peoples.
A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
Indigenous Peoples can also access the Hope for Wellness Help Line by phone at 1-855-242-3310 or via online chat through the website at www.hopeforwellness.ca.
January 28, 2022 – Esk’etemc First Nation, British Columbia – Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The locating of unmarked burials at former residential school sites across Canada is a tragic reminder of the abuse that many Indigenous children suffered in these institutions. The Government of Canada is working with Survivors, Indigenous leaders, and affected families and communities to address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the legacy of residential schools. Part of this work includes locating and commemorating missing children who attended residential schools, as well as responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 72 to 76.
Esk’etemc First Nation is undertaking healing and support work associated with the traumas caused by the former St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School adjacent to Williams Lake First Nation. Through the guidance of Elders and Knowledge Keepers, the community will explore ways to support Survivors and their families on their healing journey by hosting ‘Path to Healing’ gatherings. Plans are also in the works to host a future Spirit Walk or run to commemorate Survivors and those children who did not return home. Among those who did not return home was 8-year-old Duncan Sticks, who was found frozen to death in his attempt to return home to Esk’etemc to escape the horrors of sexual and physical abuse he endured at the school.
Today, Kukpi7 Fred Robbins of Esk’etemc First Nation and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced funding of $387,801 to assist the community with this important work. A portion of the funding will go toward creating a monument in memory of Duncan and the many others who were subjected to abuse at the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School.
Additionally, Esk’etemc is working and will continue to work with the Cariboo Chilcotin Teachers Association to explore opportunities for Survivors to share their culture, traditions and residential school experiences with students and staff. This community-led process will ensure Esk’etemc First Nation can undertake this work in their own way and at their own pace without systemic barriers and further discrimination that unfortunately still resides within Canadian society.
Addressing the harms suffered by Survivors, their families and communities is at the heart of reconciliation and is essential to renewing and building relationships with Indigenous Peoples, governments, and all Canadians.