A Message from the Director

Dear students, staff and all members of the Niagara Catholic community:

The discovery of mass and unmarked graves at Residential Schools this spring is both horrifying and heartbreaking.

This tragic discovery is a sobering reminder of the devastation caused to thousands of Indigenous people by Church and government-run Indian Residential Schools.  It is also a call to renew our commitment to listening to the truth about the atrocities that took place at Indian Residential Schools, and to work towards reconciliation with the Indigenous people for many generations of imposed suffering.

We can only imagine the immense sense of loss felt by parents and their communities when their children were taken from their homes and families. We can only imagine their anguish at seeing children who did return home profoundly and negatively changed by their experience, and we can only imagine the grief that filled the empty place in their hearts for children who would never return. It is truly, an unspeakable human tragedy.

Niagara Catholic is committed to honouring the lives of the 215 members of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc People whose bodies were discovered last week, and all those whose lives were lost or irreparably damaged by their experience at an Indian Residential School or Indian Day School.

Our flags are flying at half-mast for 215 hours, one hour in memory of each of the beautiful lives cut short.  We recognize that it takes far more than a symbolic gesture to acknowledge the wrongs inflicted on the Indigenous people of this land. Action, and a willingness for meaningful change, are required. We call for action and are committed to meaningful change. And that begins by acknowledging the Catholic Church’s role in operating Indian Residential Schools, including the one that is the site of this recent discovery.

While we cannot change the wrongs of the past, we can and we will begin on a path to enlightenment and reconciliation today. It is our responsibility to hear and acknowledge the truth of those in the Indigenous community when they share their stories. Niagara Catholic is committed to listening to, learning from, and working with the Indigenous community.  We understand that this is more than a dark chapter in Canadian history, and that atrocities continue to be committed against Indigenous people today. Therefore, our commitment extends to educating ourselves and our students in the true and complete history of this land, while seeking advice and direction from the Indigenous community.

For anyone personally impacted by the Indian Residential Schools, we encourage you to contact the Indian Residential School Crisis Line by calling 1-866-925-4419. Counsellors are available to help you deal with your feelings. Or, seek a family member or friend and talk to them about what you are feeling. Do not remain alone.

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