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Statement from Department of Political Science

Department of Political Science at McMaster University issues statement on Kamloops Indian Residential School

Jun 11, 2021

The Department of Political Science at McMaster University acknowledges and extends condolences to the Indigenous families and community in Kamloops and Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc following confirmation of an unmarked mass grave with the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

We also express our solidarity with students, staff, and colleagues at McMaster, many of whom are experiencing at a very personal level the trauma of last week’s news. And we support the community of Six Nations of the Grand River in their call for a search of the entire grounds of the former Mohawk Institute, which was one of the oldest, continuously operated residential schools in Canada.

From the 1820s until 1996, the residential school system in Canada operated to fulfill official government policy of erasure of Indigenous lifeways and distinct ways of knowing and being. The violence perpetrated against children, their families, and their communities was a function of systemic colonialism and racism that endures in politics and governance in Canada to the present day. We acknowledge also that many more children remain missing and that intergenerational trauma remains a real and present legacy of these and other historic and ongoing colonial violences in Canada.

The land acknowledgements we make, recognizing our lives and work on Indigenous lands that have always been places of teaching and research, entail both relationships and responsibilities. With these in mind, as a Department we call for the immediate implementation of all Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada and we recommit to the careful examination of our discipline’s historic and ongoing complicities and its implication in colonial relations of power.