Prime Ministers’ Row mourns the children of Kamloops residential school

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Prime Ministers’ Row stands in solidarity with the people of Tk’emlúps and all Indigenous Peoples as we mourn the 215 children whose remains were located recently on the grounds of the former Indian residential school in Kamloops, B.C.  

This gut-wrenching news is another stark reminder of atrocities that have been committed against Indigenous peoples across this country, and of the dark history of the Indian residential school system.

Much work remains as a country to ensure we walk the path of reconciliation. For its part on this journey, Prime Ministers’ Row is committed to telling and elevating the stories of people affected by the policies and decisions of Canada’s federal leaders.

Canada’s Prime Ministers are polarizing figures, none more so than the first, Sir John A. Macdonald, who created the residential school system. But by the time the last school closed in 1996, no fewer than 20 different Prime Ministers had presided over these institutions that sought to crush Indigenous culture and language. It took generations of suffering – until 1951, under Louis St. Laurent – before the federal government began to slowly move away from the residential school approach. And it took decades more, and many more damaged lives, before they dwindled to none. Today, Indigenous communities and individuals still grapple with the trauma of this system’s legacy.

This latest discovery shines a much-needed light on those who were silenced, providing us with the opportunity to learn from the impact of Prime Ministers’ legacies to paint a more complete picture of Canada’s past and present.

Prime Ministers’ Row is committed to fulfilling all the relevant Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action related to Museums and Archives. The experiences and perspectives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit have been, and will remain, central to this project.