To honour and respect the 215 Indigenous children found in Kamloops, Island Health observed a moment of silence today, National Indigenous Peoples Day. The moment of silence was observed at 2:15 p.m. across all Island Health sites.
“We paused at this particular time to reflect on the tragic impact of residential schools, colonialism and systemic racism on Indigenous people and their communities,” said Island Health President and CEO Kathy MacNeil. “We encourage all Vancouver Island residents to find time for quiet reflection today.”
“That this situation exists is sadly not a surprise and illustrates the damaging and lasting impacts that the residential school system continues to have on First Nations people, their families and communities,” said Richard Jock, CEO of the First Nations Health Authority. “We will continue to provide culturally safe mental health and wellness programs that support BC First Nations who are traumatized by these tragic events.”
There were at least five residential schools included in the Island Health region:
• Alberni Indian Residential School – Port Alberni (1917 - 1973)
• Ahousaht Indian Residential School – Ahousaht (1901 - 1950)
• Christie Residential School – Meares Island (1900 - 1983)
• Kuper Island Indian Residential School – Penelakut Island (1890 - 1975)
• St Michaels Residential School – Alert Bay (1929 - 1975).
“As we acknowledge this ongoing trauma, we know that this discovery in Kamloops is only the beginning,” said Eunice Joe, Island Health Executive Director, Indigenous Health & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “It is important for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people working in partnership at Island Health to come together to mourn this loss and to commit to supporting the wellness of all people with compassion.”
“Within Island Health and across Canada, we know that Indigenous patients and families are impacted by health disparities resulting from colonization and Indigenous-specific racism,” said Krista Allan, Vice President Knowledge, Practice and Chief Nurse Executive and Interim VP, Indigenous Health and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. “At Island Health, Indigenous people who are accessing care and services must feel safe, respected and heard. Indigenous-specific racism will not stand in the way of safe care.”