Justice Murray Sinclair, during his engagement with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, made two incredibly profound statements to the effect:
First, that the Indian residential school didn’t just happen to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, it happened to all Canadians; and second that Canada’s Indian residential school system represented “cultural genocide” against all of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. The Indian residential schools were purposely designed to destroy our Indigenous languages, cultures, customs, and traditions. More importantly, the residential school system was designed to destroy our spiritual connection to our lands.
Therefore, we must seek to understand these fundamental truths so we can begin to understand why our grandparents and parents were subjected to such racist, hateful, and completely abusive treatment by the nuns, priests, and other staff. The Indian residential schools were designed to wipe us out. To obliterate all traces of our Peoples.
We can celebrate the fact the Indian residential school was a complete and dismal failure! We are still here. In fact, we are thriving! Our languages are coming back through our children. Our songs and customs are coming back through our youth. Our traditions are being openly shared by our Elders. Our women are providing the leadership to ensure everything is done in a good way.
We would like to thank all of our dearly beloved Indian residential school Survivors for their many sacrifices, tears, and broken hearts. Had they not had the courage and resilience to resist, we would not be here today.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chair, Okanagan Nation Alliance