A few days ago, we were horrified to read the news of the remains of 215 children found at the former Kamloops residential school in British Columbia. The school, located on Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation, operated from 1890 to 1969, when the federal government took over administration from the Catholic Church to operate it as a residence for a day school, until closing in 1978.
It is estimated more than 150,000 children attended residential schools in Canada from the 1830s until the last school closed in 1996. For decades Indigenous peoples have experienced incredible injustices in this country, and while we must understand and acknowledge the past, this is a still a present problem and requires present action.
It is our job to create a home for students, which we all take very seriously. However, we must ensure that our residences are spaces where everyone feels safe and welcomed, and where our students and staff can be their authentic selves. We need to be more than allies, we must be active allies and create positive and systemic change. We must continue to challenge the notion of white supremacy in higher education and make the challenge of truth and reconciliation a reality in our communities. It is our obligation to review our policies, procedures, and operations to ensure we are actively anti-racist and that we continue to build towards Indigenous sovereignty.
The Ontario Association of College and University Housing Officers stand in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of this land.
On Thursday June 10th during our Annual General Meeting, we will observe 215 seconds of silence to remember the children who lost their lives in this tragedy.
To learn more about OACUHO’s Strategic Imperative on Anti-Racism and Indigenous Sovereignty and OACUHO’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, please see our website.
OACUHO Board of Directors