By Yorkabiel Desta ‘24
"I get a sense that people really want the number. But from my perspective, this is a marathon, not a sprint," said Tamara Randall, who created and moderates the Facebook group Every Child Matters with over 17,000 members. How is the Indigenous community coping with the missing children being found and what are they doing to find the rest?
In May 2021, with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found, some being as young as three years old. The children were attending Kamloops Indian Residential schools in British Columbia which closed in 1978. “Canada's residential school system, which forcibly separated Indigenous children from their families, constituted ‘cultural genocide’, a six-year investigation into the now-defunct system found in 2015,” (Anna Mehler Paperny, 2021). These schools were typically run by Christian churches on behalf of Ottawa from the 1840s to the 1990s.
The document report included multiple charges of abuse, rape, malnutrituion, and other horrific incidents against a total of 150,000 children. The remains of 215 children would have gone undocumented along with the other 4,100, had they not been found this year. In 2008, the Canadian government formally apologized for the school system implemented “for the Indigenous children.” Yet, here we are in October, with the Indigenous community still pleading to find the rest of their missing children, despite being told they would have made substantial progress by mid June.
With that said, how is the Indigenous community dealing with this? “This is a marathon, not a sprint” (Tamara Randall). The Indigenous community is asking for justice and for their children to be brought home. There is always more work to be done. It is not solely about finding the missing children, but also about what you're willing to do for the families who have suffered from that loss and the ways in which you can help, especially to those who have survived and now live with that trauma.
There are many ways in which you can help the Indigenous community. You can start by educating yourself on the matter, even if you have a couple of minutes to spare, read an article or maybe watch a video on the topic. You can inform other people on the matter and encourage them to educate themselves. This boosts the flow of information, which always contributes to change. Participate in the movement and support them, through their small businesses and funding.