The heartbreaking news that the remains of 215 children were found at a former residential school in Kamloops British Columbia is a reminder of the impact that colonization and child welfare have on Indigenous peoples, both in the past, and in the present.
As a child welfare agency, we apologize for the role child welfare played in the historical residential school system and Indigenous child removal in Canada, and the impact it continues to have on Indigenous peoples. The pain that families and communities felt when their children did not return home continues to be felt today. With the ongoing removal of Indigenous children from their communities, we risk perpetuating these actions and causing the same harms to future generations.
At Hamilton Children’s Aid Society, in addition to building awareness, sharing knowledge and training CAS staff across the organization, we are committed to building relationships and working with members of the Indigenous serving community to change how we work with Indigenous families.
Indigenous service providers in the Hamilton community have the unique knowledge, understanding, and empathy to successfully support their community to help Indigenous families exit the child welfare system. The earlier we work together with these partners and with Indigenous families, the quicker families are supported in a culturally safe and informed manner.
Today, every team at our agency met to discuss and reflect on our collective and individual roles to learn from what happened in residential schools, what each of us can do personally to help the agency achieve its goal of keeping Indigenous children, youth and families together, and how we must include Indigenous families, and Indigenous partners in the community in our work.