With the heartbreaking news from Kamloops earlier this month about the discovery of 215 children found buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, the UBC Okanagan Engineering Indigenous Caucus and our allies the EDI advisors met this past week to discuss how we can help our community better understand and process this tragic news.
The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has made the history of residential schools in Canada widely known. Before the TRC, few Canadians learned about how Indigenous children were taken from their families and communities, and forced by law to attend residential schools designed to strip them of their culture. This is not distant history, and there are many living victims in every indigenous community. We first encourage you to learn about the Residential School System in Canada.
The stories of these children are difficult to hear, but they are important. We encourage you to watch some of these stories to better gain insight into the history of Canada, and its relationship with Indigenous Peoples. This content is very powerful, and some people may require support after watching it. If so, here are some support resources through UBC:
- UBC Wellness: https://students.ok.ubc.ca/health-wellness/
- UBC Employee and Family Assistance Program at 1-800-387-4765
June is Indigenous Peoples History Month, and is a time for us all (regardless of our background) to reflect on the history of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
Many resources are available about the history of residential schools in Canada, and the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Report and Recommendations, including the following:
History needs to be remembered in order for us to take steps towards reconciliation, and move our country to match its aspirations. It is the same foundational principle for the discipline of engineering. As engineers we learn from our mistakes and grow. Together, we can work towards a lasting and impactful change.
During the month of June, we will continue to share topics and resources as we open a dialogue about reconciliation, and the role we all play in this process. We welcome your participation and input.
Thank you for taking the time to participate in this.
Drs. Benoit and Foulds
Drs. Collier and Tobber (incoming engineering faculty for July 2021)
School of Engineering Indigenous Caucus