Mayors message

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One year ago today, the Secwépemc Nation announced 215 unmarked and previously undocumented gravesites had been found using ground-penetrating radar at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

At a commemorative ceremony this week in Kamloops, Governor General Mary Simon noted this shameful part of Canadian history was always known to Indigenous people, while almost everyone else failed to see and believe the truth.

“It has been called a discovery,” she said. “But it isn't a discovery so much as a confirmation of your experiences and the knowledge passed down from generation to generation. And now everyone knows. It shouldn't have taken this long, but finally, people know.”

If there is anything hopeful to come out of this past year, it is that we all finally know and have begun the process of acknowledging and atoning for a government policy and system designed to erase Indigenous culture, language and spiritualism.

We are listening to the stories of those who attended the Residential School system and we have begun to see the source of a legacy of pain and loss that has afflicted so many families.

We still have much to learn and understand about Indigenous history and traditional knowledge of our area. This knowledge is valuable to us in our work and, following Imagine Kelowna’s principle of collaboration, will help shape Kelowna as a fair and equitable community.

The appalling history of children being abducted from their families still haunts communities across Canada. It is our Council’s sincere hope that the healing process that began this year continues to grow and reach each and every person hurt by decades of systematic racism and abuse.

We now know the truth and we will continue along our path toward reconciliation.