Secwepemc Chiefs Want Reconciliation and Justice for Families Impacted by Current Child Welfare System and Indian Residential School Day Scholars

June 4, 2015


Kamloops – On May 28th, 2015, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin remarked in her speech on “Reconciling Unity and Diversity in the Modern Era: Tolerance and Intolerance” that there are three conditions that she believes “essential to maintaining the norm of tolerance: first, insisting on respect for the human dignity of each person; second, fostering inclusive institutions and cultural attitudes in civil society; and third, maintaining the rule of law (p.3).”[1]

“With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission coming to a close, its findings don’t come as a surprise to us.  Our people live with the realities and ramifications resultant from the Residential School “cultural genocidal” regime everyday day”, declared Kukpi7 Christian, Tribal Chief of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. “The prevailing effects of this horrendous stain in our history can be most clearly seen in the current child welfare system and its overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and families.” The TRC recommends ninety four legislation implementations that could address the injustices of the Residential Schools.

As Chief Justice McLachlin stated, “insisting on respect for the human dignity of each person” is essential for tolerance.  Respect and dignity is what our children in care need and deserve. After generations of our children being abducted from their homes and families and being stripped of their culture, the status quo of child welfare cannot continue. The SNTC Chiefs join hundreds of other leaders across the country in a call to action. Social circumstances must change and leadership must be front and center taking the actions required that will shape future generations.

We eagerly await the final ruling from the Human Rights Tribunal where Cindy Blackstock and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society challenged the federal government’s inequitable funding for our children.  If the Tribunal takes note of the Chief Justice’s words as we have, they will see the only ruling they can make is the one that respects dignity and the rule of law for our most vulnerable citizens.

We agree with Chief Justice and see a need for “fostering inclusive institutions and cultural attitudes in civil society.” Truth and Reconciliation Commission Canada’s fourth recommendation calls upon the federal government to: “Affirm the right of Aboriginal governments to establish and maintain their own child-welfare agencies.”2

At this conclusion of the TRC, it is important that we recognize all of the day scholars who were exposed to the traumas of attending residential schools but have yet to find their justice or peace of mind. The impacts they endured are just as real as any other survivor. Part of TRC’s fourteenth recommendation, “Aboriginal languages are fundamental and valued elements of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.” Shows these people are living proof of a culture being stolen.

The Tk̓emlúps te Secwepemc and Sechelt First Nations have launched a class action suit and are seeking to represent all Aboriginal persons who attended Indian Residential Schools as day students for compensation for their losses of language and culture.  Ruling from Justice Harrington as to whether this can go forward as a class action can be expected by the end of this year.   For justice to be found from the residential school era, Day Scholars require the opportunity for the rule of law be applied and for their experiences to be entered into the record.


Chief Wayne Christian, Shuswap Nation Tribal Council – 1 (250) 503-7072 


[1] Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015) “Reconciling Unity and Diversity in the Modern Era: Tolerance and Intolerance” remarks at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Ontario

2 Truth and Reconciliation Canada, (2015), “Calls to Action”, 4i

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