Seneca Nation of Indians
Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels issued the following statement regarding the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. The school, which operated between 1890 and 1969, was once Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school, which hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children were forced to attend. Thousands of children are known to have died at these schools in the United States and Canada, and it is believed that the deaths of hundreds – if not thousands – were never documented.
“Senecas are grieving along with the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in the wake of this recent discovery - another gruesome reminder of the treatment and terror that generations of Indigenous people suffered at the hands of foreign settlers on our own lands.
Residential schools were established in an attempt to erase Indigenous people, our culture and our very existence, from our own lands. We lived on these lands long before the arrival of European settlers and well before countries like Canada and the United States existed. Relocating Native nations to remote areas and taking our lands was and is a grave injustice in and of itself. Taking children away from their families and trying to wipe away our native language and our very identity, often by force and violence, is a hate crime. These hate crimes can never and should never be forgotten. There are many Native people around the world, including many Senecas, who still carry the scars and terror of those days. Discoveries like the one at the Kamloops site re-open those wounds.
The terror our people face hasn’t ended. Today, countless Indigenous individuals are murdered or go missing across Indian Country. Our communities have long been the targets of violence, abuse and neglect. It must end.
We pray for the children whose bodies were discovered last week, for their families, and for all Indigenous people who have been the victims of violence and abuse, and for those who remain missing. They will never be forgotten and we will always fight in their memory.”