OC offers condolences to the Cowessess First Nation and all those impacted and in mourning

By Public Affairs | June 25, 2021
           

Text of "Every child matters" overlain on an orange background

This statement contains content about residential schools that we recognize may be triggering. If you need immediate emotional assistance or crisis support, please see the supports (bolded) below. 

Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon campuses are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people and our Salmon Arm campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc.

On Thursday, June 24, the Cowessess First Nation confirmed the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School.

On behalf of Okanagan College and the Board of Governors, we offer our condolences and deepest sympathies to the Cowessess First Nation and to the survivors, families and all those impacted by the legacy of harm, trauma, pain and suffering caused by the residential school system in Canada. Flags at Okanagan College campuses will remain at half-mast in memory of those who lost their lives and in recognition of the survivors and all those affected.

We recognize with concern and profoundly heavy hearts that this horrific news comes at a time when many Indigenous members of our internal community, and in communities in the region and across the province, are already in mourning. It comes a mere month after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced their discovery of the remains of 215 children buried in unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Sadly, we know Syilx and Secwepemc children attended the Kamloops school and were among those who did not return. We cannot begin to convey our sorrow at how this new discovery at Marieval will likely redouble the pain and grief that so many in our learning community, and all around us, are experiencing.

If you need immediate support: you can access resources available to OC students, employees and the public on this webpage. There you will also find information and resources about the residential school system, survivor stories, Indigenous news and knowledge sources, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.

Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme has called the people of Canada to “stand by us as we heal.” To the Cowessess and to all those hurting, are hearts are with you, and our thoughts continue to go to the actions we can take to support reconciliation and healing.

As a college we are committed to continuing working with, learning from and listening to Indigenous communities, to supporting our Indigenous learners and employees and to infusing Indigenous knowledge into every aspect of what we do. We know that true progress in reconciliation will involve active two-way communication, sharing of knowledge and action.

On that note, we invite everyone to join us in taking action on the path toward reconciliation. Join us in reading and making a personal commitment to acting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action through the I Pledge Campaign. It is our sincere hope that what began as a space for our students and employees to voice their personal commitment to engaging with this important topic can provide a channel for others to do so as well.

 

Gloria Morgan
Chair, Okanagan College Board of Governors
Yawyawt all Xaxa7 t'e poonllp
(Strong and Smart Juniper)
Splatsina t'e Secwepemc

Neil Fassina
President, Okanagan College



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