Confronting the truth

We put it upon ourselves, with Legal Aid Alberta, to continue our work providing access to meaningful, restorative justice for Indigenous people.

By LAA's Grace Auger, Stephen Shirt, and Jessica Buffalo
May 31, 2021

The discovery of a mass grave of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School is emotionally devastating. It brings the reality of the history of Indigenous people to light. The truth about the history of the way we have been treated is in plain view for all to see.

This tragic news shocks us but does not surprise us. We have known this truth for generations. These children should have grown up to be knowledge keepers, mothers, fathers. We acknowledge the families and survivors of these children.

Canadians need to learn this history. There can be no more pretending. There can be no reconciliation without truth. We call on the federal government to move forward with the Truth and Reconciliation Report’s calls to action 72 to 74 to account for all of children missing from residential schools.

We put it upon ourselves, with Legal Aid Alberta, to continue our work providing access to meaningful, restorative justice for Indigenous people, and to educate Canadians on restorative justice and the role Indigenous initiatives have in courts.

This is why we won’t stop fighting. This is why we won’t stop protecting. This is why we won’t stay silent. It is more important than ever that we, as Canadians, as people, continue to learn. We will speak up and continue to share our stories and experiences, raising awareness of why access to justice and restorative justice for Indigenous people is essential.

Grace Auger and Jessica Buffalo are staff lawyers at Legal Aid Alberta. Stephen Shirt is LAA’s Indigenous courthouse navigator and assessment officer.

Legal Aid Alberta Indigenous Employees Engagement Network

If you are in need of support with respect to residential schools in Canada, contact the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

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