Last week Thursday was a difficult day for many, and for Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation northwest of Prince George, they were not alone.
That day the buried remains of more than 200 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site was confirmed by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (Kamloops Indian Band) with the help of a ground-penetrating radar specialist.
“Their community is really devastated,” Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation Chief Aileen Prince said in a Facebook video Friday, May 28.
“There’s a lot of communities that are devastated down south, but we’ve also had community members attend that school and probably have heard the stories over the years about what was going on down there and possibly now are asking questions about other residential schools and what has happened in those ones as well,” she added.
“So really be as supportive as you can but also reach out for help if you need to.”
Prince shared contacts for the Indian School Survivors Society and KUU-US Crisis Line Society, providing support and said additional resources could be coming for Nak’azdli Whut’en.
The Indigenous community near Fort. James had also sent a letter to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc expressing their concerns and heartfelt condolences, Prince added.
Drumming and singing was held Sunday afternoon at the former Lejac Residential School site located on the southeast shore of Fraser Lake.
“This is something that we as a community have to recognize is part of our history, part of the national history of Canada and their treatment of First Nations,” Prince said.
“It’s not an easy thing to live with, and it’s going to bring out a lot of feelings in people, and I encourage you to talk about it. Don’t turn to numbing the pain or self-medicating. I encourage you to reach out and talk to people as that’s going to help you.”