A Heartbreaking Anniversary

May 23, 2022

The National Association of Japanese Canadians National Executive Board is remembering one year ago when we heard the heartbreaking news of 215 (and now believed to be a higher number of) unmarked graves of children near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Our thoughts are with all survivors of residential schools and their families, and so many more families who never saw their children return. Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation refers to the missing children as Le Estcwicwe̓y̓ and is hosting an all-day event today in Kamloops.

“We honour Le Estcwicwe̓y̓ (missing children) and continue our learning,” says Lorene Oikawa, president of the National Association of Japanese Canadians. “We urge all Canadians to show their support and learn about the history of Indigenous peoples and the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

The Kamloops Indian Residential School operated in the territory of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation from 1890 to 1969 when the federal government took it over from the Catholic Church and then operated it as a day school until 1978.

The last school in Canada did not close until 1996. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) said 4,100 children died at residential schools in Canada based on death records, but the total is actually higher.

For anyone experiencing any pain or distress because of their residential school experience or are distressed by the news of the anniversary, please call the national Indian Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419 for support which is available 24-hours a day.

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