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Montreal, June 6, 2021 – A very successful devotional gather was held in downtown to commemorate the loss of 215 children from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, the home community of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

On May 27, 2021, a Press Release from the Office of the Chief  Rosanne Casimir confirmed an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School. She stated, “This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings came to light – the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”

“We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” stated Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir. “Some were as young as three years old. We sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the final resting place of these children.” (1)

The devastating news that the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, are buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia has appalled the nation. This discovery is a reminder of a dark and recent period of Canada’s history, its legacy of suffering and the present-day trauma for its victims. (2)

To honor these young souls, their families and their community, all friends of the Montreal community were invited to offer special prayers over the next few weeks, privately and at devotional gatherings or vigils, and especially during the Festival of Light on June 3rd and 4th. Let us call upon these powerful spiritual forces, joining with others of many different backgrounds and beliefs...

We bow our heads and offer prayers for these souls and all souls who have suffered and continue to suffer from the trauma of this dark part of our country's history. (3)

In its letter to the 19-day Feast of Light, the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Montreal explains, “ a great wrong has come to light in these past days that has brought shock, grief and indignation to the entire country. We have been riveted by news of the discovery of the fate of the 215 children who died at one of the residential schools that separated children from their parents for over a hundred years. We fear the discovery of further tragic news of the same kind. A further example of how long hidden injustices are being revealed everywhere. We are reminded of Bahá’u’lláh’s remarkable statement that in this day, “If a speck of a jewel be lost and buried beneath a mountain of stones, and lie hidden beyond the seven seas, the Hand of Omnipotence will assuredly reveal it in this day. . .” It is a moment of great soul-searching for our country and of sympathy for native Canadians everywhere. A response is required. The National Spiritual Assembly has written to the Bahá’í community of Canada suggesting what that might be and we commend it to you tonight to read together and act on. We can only hope and pray that as this heartbreaking story unfolds it may lead to much greater appreciation of the extraordinary capacities of the first peoples and that their inherent spirituality will be seen as one of Canada’s greatest blessings. (4)

Over the course of the week, dozens of Devotional Gatherings will be held in neighborhoods across the city to commemorate this immense tragic loss that has shaken the country.

References:

(1) Press Release Office of Chief Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7

(2) Letter of the NSA of Canada dated May 31, 2021

(3) Letter of comité CEG addressed to the 19 Days Feast of Núr

(4) Letter June 5, 2021 from the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Montreal

 

 

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