Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu has joined a call in the B.C. Legislature to dedicate the month of June to advancing reconciliation efforts with Indigenous peoples.
Addressing her colleagues virtually on Monday (June 13), Sandhu backed a motion by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice to recognize June as National Indigenous History Month in Canada.
“I move, be it resolved, that this House recognize June as national Indigenous History Month, and continue to advance reconciliation and partnership with Indigenous peoples,” Rice stated June 13.
The motion comes at a time when Canadians are reckoning with the country’s “horrific and cruel” legacy of Indian residential schools, as Sandhu said.
“I extend my thoughts and profound grief with the Indigenous communities affected by the devastating discovery,” she said in relation to the 215 children’s bodies that were uncovered at a former Kamloops residential school in late May.
Those 215 children appear to be “the tip of the iceberg,” Sandhu said.
Sandhu thanked the constituents who have connected with her to share stories of the residential schools from their personal and family histories.
“I want to share with the Indigenous communities that I am here to listen, to support, in any way I can, and I stand in solidarity with them,” she said.
Sandhu said before she immigrated to Canada she did her due diligence in researching the country she and her family intended to call home, but found nothing that mentioned Canada’s residential schools.
“I then proceeded to pursue my education to continue my nursing and then took my Canadian citizenship exam,” she said.
“Again, there was no mention about this dark, unacceptable and horrendous part of Canadian history.”
Sandhu said national Indigenous History Month can provide a needed entry point for educating Canadians on historical injustices against First Nations, and how “the consequences of these atrocities continue to this day” through inter-generational trauma.
“This step is much needed so we can all learn from the past and speak up against such injustices to show our collective support and advocacy.”