Content Warning: this article discusses residential schools
Even though the Parliamentary session ended on June 23, North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is expecting to have a busy summer.
Just as the session was ending, Canada began waking up to the devastation of residential schools.
“Our office has been inundated by Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community trying to understand what next needs to happen in our country to make our country a better one and really realizing the history that we’re all living,” she said.
The federal government has a lot of options, she said, to help people affected by the revelations.
“The first thing is to support the communities as they look for their children,” she said. “We’re hearing a lot from survivors, the children of survivors and the grandchildren of survivors that are really being hit by this hard. We really need to see that support.”
That support includes helping build supports between the First Nations, since many of the bodies uncovered may not be from the nearest nation.
“We also need to make sure that there is supports and resources for them to do that outreach with all of those nations, just to make sure that as these processes unfold they’re happening in the most respectful way possible.”
For non-Indigenous people, the major hurdle will be coming to terms with the true history of Canada and learn from that past.
“These things are not over yet,” she said. “We need to learn from this and hopefully build a Canada that we can all feel strong and passionate again. This is a dark part of our history, but its part of our reality today and we need to come to terms with that.”
That includes taking a look at current systems and dismantling the racism and discrimination within them. For example, in B.C. a disproportionate number of Indigenous children are in the foster care system (43.8 per 1,000 population in 2019, compared to 2.6 per 1,000 non-Indigenous according to the provincial government).
“What I’m hoping that people see out of this is that if you go into a community and you do for generations what Canada and churches across this country has done, then we need to also put supports in to help people learn how to parent again,” Blaney said.
“That is what is happening in our country,” she added.
National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.