215 Indigenous children – Statement and Actions

Published June 3, 2021

Content warning: The following statement references Canada’s residential school syste

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. 

  • The emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
  • The Indian Residential School Survivors Society offers a crisis line for grief, crisis, and trauma counselling: 1-800-721-0066

We at Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries share in the sorrow and outrage at the news of the 215 Indigenous children who were killed and buried in a mass grave in a residential school in Kamloops, the community of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. Thousands of children were killed in residential schools, and their bodies rarely returned home, creating generations of trauma and mourning.  With the last school only closing in 1996, we grieve and mourn for these children, their families, all the survivors, and the lost cultural knowledge. 

Art galleries and museums are not exempt from perpetuating and benefitting from white settler colonialism. Colonialism in Canada has torn Indigenous Peoples from their resources, land, language and culture and this colonial violence and harm committed against Indigenous communities remain a reality today. Action must start now. 

As the visual arts sector, we need to remain diligent in reconciliation and decolonization work in our institutions and communities. GOG continues to foster and support learning collaborations and activities, working towards meaningful change for decolonization and supporting Indigenous peoples. 

What We Can Do

  • Learn more about residential schools and the devastating impact on communities and generations of Indigenous Peoples or take a free course on Indigenous histories and contemporary issues through the University of Alberta;
  • Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and commit to ways you can be accountable. This call to action was published in 2015 and only 8 of the 94 calls have currently been met. Read analysis from the Yellowhead Institute about the lack of action. 
  • Advocate to the federal government to ensure the Calls to Action are implemented and demand that there are examinations of all former residential school properties;
  • Donate to an Indigenous museum, cultural centre, community, or Indigenous support organizations that help residential school survivors today. See the list below for some organizations you can donate to;
  • Educate yourself about the land we now call Canada. See the interactive map to look up the territorial land, languages, and treaties where you live here;
  • Join Indigenous Canada, a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that explores Indigenous histories and key issues facing Indigenous peoples today;
  • For more information and action that you can take visit the Settlers Take Action page of the On Canada Project.

Donate to Indigenous organizations

Educating yourself (Lists put together by Platform)