Mourning 215 Indigenous Children
June 1st, 2021 - Defence Stories
This message deals with topics that may cause trauma invoked by memories of past abuse. We recognize some individuals may not want to read further to minimize the risk of being triggered.
It is with sadness that our nation was made aware of the shameful and tragic discovery of the 215 Indigenous children buried at a Canadian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia this past week. This tragedy sheds even more light on the horrible realities surrounding Residential Schools, and the systemic racism which all Indigenous people and families continue to endure.
To all of our Indigenous Defence Team members – as well as their families, we want to express our sincerest sympathies and condolences. Our hearts and prayers are with you.
This mass grave is a traumatic reminder of the pain Indigenous people, parents, family members and communities felt, and continue to feel, for their children who were taken and for those who never returned home. We have a responsibility to support our colleagues and their families to ensure they are provided with the support and resources to manage this heartbreaking discovery.
For any public service employees or families affected, we encourage you to utilize the various options for support and resources:
- A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former Residential School students. The Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419 for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their Residential School experience.
- The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate help to all Indigenous people across Canada at 1-855-242-3310. Experienced and culturally competent Help Line Counsellors can help individuals who want to talk, are distressed, have strong emotional reactions and/or may be triggered by painful memories. Support is available in English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut.
- Health Canada Employee Assistance Services (EAS): 1-800-268-7708 or 1-800-567-5803 (TTY) to access free, confidential short-term professional counselling services for employees and their family members.
- Contact the EAP Peer Advisors: 1-833-747-6363 to be connected with a readily available colleague who can provide confidential active-listening skills and resources to employees in need.
- LifeSpeak (you are now leaving the Government of Canada website): A web-based service that offers free confidential access to hundreds of short videos by experts on a variety issues.
For members of the Canadian Armed Forces, these additional resources are available to you and your families:
- CAF Members have access to mental health care and a range of support services provided at Canadian Forces Health Services primary care clinics across Canada. Care is also available for those deployed. Many services are available either with or without an appointment, and there is a choice of in-person or virtual/telephone.
- Member Assistance Program (CFMAP) is a confidential advisory and referral service that is external to the CAF and available to members and their families by phone 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week at 1-800-268-7708.
- Spiritual guidance and support are available through military chaplains.
- Information on these and other medical and mental health care and support services for military members and their families may be found on the Military Mental Health “You’re Not Alone” web page.
Beyond these resources – speak to a friend, family member, your supervisor, or a mental health professional – do not grieve alone.
As we migrate through the weeks and months ahead, please continue to hold space for your Indigenous colleagues, employees, and friends who may be processing this trauma. Continue to educate yourself, and contribute to actions to keep Indigenous children safe and thriving in Canada.
LGen Steven Whelan
Chief of Military Personnel
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