Message from WRHA CEO on Kamloops residential school victims
By Mike Nader
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority President & CEO
June 1, 2021
SENSITIVE CONTENT WARNING: Please be aware that this message contains information that some people may find distressing.
As many of you have likely heard, late last week, the remains of 215 children were discovered on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, following a survey by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.
This discovery is not only an unthinkable tragedy; it is a reminder that as a country, we are still contending with the darkest parts of our history, and as a nation how important the process of - and commitment to - reconciliation is. This is also true of the health care system. We know that what should always be a place of safety, care and healing - for patients, clients, residents and staff - is not always experienced that way.
As part of our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, it is our role to provide high-quality, culturally safe care that is free of racism, and improve the experiences of Indigenous patients, clients and residents within the health care system. Our board of directors passed a resolution directing the WRHA to focus on the Commission's health-related action items 18 through 24 - and we will by identifying a plan with tangible strategies and on-the-ground supports.
In the face of this recent discovery, the gravity of our commitment is clear. Every day, our words and actions affect and influence others. It is so important that we all constantly remind ourselves to be conscious of this in all our interactions.
To honour the lives of these 215 children, and acknowledge the pain of their families, other residential school survivors and Indigenous communities across the country, sites across our region have lowered their flags to half-mast this week. Additionally, Indigenous Health is planning an Honour Ceremony today at 2:15pm in the Seven Oaks Sanctuary Garden with a two minute and fifteen second pause, as well as a smudge and prayer to honour and remember the 215 children and others who did not return home from residential schools. If it is possible for you, I invite you to pause at this time.
This is extremely difficult news, and I encourage you to take time to pause and reflect on its impacts on you and on those we serve. For those who need support, you can access our Employee Assistance Program at 204-786-8880 or toll free at 1-800-590-5553. A 24-hour National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is also available to former residential school students and those affected, and can be accessed by calling 1-866-925-4419.