Kamloops Statement (June 10, 2021)

The unmarked burial sites at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School represent a colonial atrocity. The 215 children whose remains were found were taken from their families in a systematic effort to eradicate their cultural identities. Thousands of others were forced into dozens of similar institutions and the school in Kamloops is unlikely to be the only site where bodies will be found. It is heinous in the extreme that defenceless and innocent children suffered emotional and physical violence, and the trauma of these events continues to be felt today.

Canada’s astronomical community joins with Canadians from all walks of life to stand in solidarity with the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc First Nations, as well as with other communities and families who have lost their children at the hands of the Canadian government and religious institutions. Their pain and grief cannot be imagined by us, and we recognize that the recent confirmation of the Kamloops unmarked graves may be particularly distressing for Indigenous members of our Society.

As academics and educators, we must confront the fact that residential school atrocities were committed in the name of education and acknowledge the role that academia has played in perpetuating colonial structures.

CASCA’s recently published Long Range Plan lays out specific actions that we as astronomers will take to address racism and inequity in our community, particularly the marginalization of Indigenous Peoples. As we take these first steps toward fulfilling the LRP vision for a more inclusive community, the news from Kamloops is a stark reminder of the ongoing trauma that underpins the inequities we are striving to address.

The CASCA Board

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