YMCA Canada statement

June 2, 2021

Every child matters.

On Friday, May 28, we learned the devastating news that Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation discovered an unmarked gravesite at the Kamloops Residential School holding the remains of 215 children.

We grieve and mourn the children found and acknowledge that Residential Schools are an ongoing source of trauma for survivors and their families, including those experiencing intergenerational trauma, as well as the families and loved ones of children who did not come home. This is not history; this is the living present. 

The findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission tell us that the story does not end here. The Honourable Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has shared remarks that place this finding in context. At least 139 Residential Schools operated across Canada and the last one did not close until 1996. What took place at Kamloops Residential School transpired at many sites across Canada.

June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, and there is a rich First Nations, Métis, and Inuit history to celebrate. This is also a time for reflection, education, and action.

For our country to become the Canada We Want, the YMCA recognizes that we must place a special and intentional focus on our relationship with Indigenous peoples. The YMCA Federation in Canada’s Statement of Reconciliation was unanimously approved by all YMCAs in Canada in 2017. To learn more about what YMCA Member Associations have been doing as part of our Reconciliation journey, please read our 2020 report An Update on Reconciliation Initiatives within the YMCA Associations of Canada.

This is just the beginning. We continue to learn and take steps in this journey and acknowledge that we have a collective responsibility to carry out the pursuits outlined in the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

There remains much work to do. We must honour the children and all the survivors, families, and communities affected by ensuring we persist in our commitment toward reconciliation.

National Indian Residential School 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419