Joint Statement of Commitment Following the Discovery of The Burial Site at Kamloops

 

With the discovery of the undocumented burial of 215 Indigenous children on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory, the bioethics and broader research ethics communities across Canada acknowledge the heart-breaking loss of these and many other young Indigenous lives within the residential school system. We also recognize and are deeply concerned by the enduring impacts of systemic injustices and intergenerational trauma on the rights, daily experiences, health, and well-being of Indigenous people and communities today.

 

This devastating news came just as National Indigenous History Month was set to begin on June 1 and is a stark reminder of the work yet to be done. There are still many truths to be revealed and reconciled in order for Canada and its citizens and residents to move forward on the path of reconciliation, a path which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada clearly articulated in its comprehensive final report and 94 Calls to Action, many of which have seen little or no implementation by the parties to whom they are directed.

 

Canadian bioethics and research ethics communities (encompassing health, academic and research domains) have not done enough to identify and address our own complicity in perpetuating ongoing colonial systems, structures, and practices.  As beneficiaries of settler colonialism, we call on non-Indigenous members of our collective communities to reflect on our role in effecting meaningful change as individuals, as organizations, and as a field.

 

We commit to working together to take the steps and actions that are needed to bring about necessary and sustainable change, in partnership with Indigenous people, organizations, and communities.

 

We welcome other individuals and organizations from the bioethics and research ethics communities in Canada to lend their support to this statement of commitment. To have your name or your organization’s name added to the list of signatories, please https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2021JointStatement    

  • Board of Directors, Canadian Association of Practicing Healthcare Ethicists / Association canadienne des éthiciens en soins de santé

  • Board of Directors, Canadian Association of Research Ethics Boards / L’association canadienne des comités d’éthique de la recherche

  • Board of Directors and Anti-Oppression & Anti-Racism Working Group, Canadian Bioethics Society / Societé canadienne de bioéthique​

  • ​University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics

  • Maxwell Smith

  • Carrie Bernard

  • Kevin Reel

  • Laune Elliott

  • Dianne Godkin

  • Daniel Wyzynski

  • Sunila R. Kalkar

  • Janet Vogt

 

Additional resources:

 

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) educates Canadians on the profound injustices inflicted on First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation by the forced removal of children to attend residential schools and the widespread abuse suffered in those schools.

 

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at the University of British Columbia works with partners across disciplines, at UBC and beyond, to facilitate dialogues and access to records and information that support engaging the legacies of the residential school system and the on-going impacts of colonialism in Canada.

 

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is a British Columbia-based organization that strives to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth, development, and healing for residential school survivors, families, and communities.  The IRSSS crisis line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day to offer support to anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.

 

The ON Canada Project’s Settlers Take Action lists a number of articles, books, videos, podcasts and organizations working to advance understanding of the history of colonialism and impacts of cultural genocide Indigenous communities continue to endure.