Our thoughts and hearts are with the Secwepemc Nation and all Indigenous Peoples at this time of loss and mourning for the 215 children that were found buried in a mass grave at a residential school in Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Territory territory near Kamloops, confirming what the community had always known.
We are mindful that while such a tragic loss is incomprehensible, it was also the product of a long history of a deliberate and systematic process of forcibly removing Indigenous children from their families and communities in an act of genocide. We fully support calls by Indigenous leaders for investigations to be made at every residential school site across the country to identify any other mass graves that may exist so that their histories can be exposed and remains brought home.
We are also aware that Indigenous children continue to be forcibly removed from their families and communities, at rates beyond those during the operation of residential schools, by the child ‘welfare’ system. The structural violence imposed by Canada’s educational policies for Indigenous Nations further forces thousands of Indigenous children every year to leave their homes for education. We thus stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples in support of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
In our 2020-2023 Strategic Plan, ICHA committed to improving our services to Indigenous Peoples experiencing homelessness in Toronto and embraced the Indigenous Definition of Homelessness. By the end of 2021-2022 fiscal year we will develop an Indigenous Services and Accountability Strategic Plan that will include targets and timelines regarding:
- Increased numbers of clinical sites supporting Indigenous Peoples
- Recruitment, retention and advancement of Indigenous physicians and staff
- The completion of Indigenous Cultural Safety training by all staff, executive leadership and board members.
- The implementation of seats on the board for up to 2 Indigenous Peoples
- Establishing additional partnerships with Indigenous Organizations
We have much to do to honour those young Indigenous People’s lives that have been taken while supporting in solidarity those that are with us.
Andrew Bond Shivanee Nadarajah
ICHA Medical Director ICHA Director of Operations