It’s a gut-wrenching and dreadful way to begin the month of June, which was designated Indigenous History Month by Justin Trudeau’s government in 2017, from the Aboriginal History Month declared by Stephen Harper’s government in 2009, which arose from the June 21 Aboriginal History Day declared by Jean Chrétien in 1996, deriving from a proposal from the Assembly of First Nations’ forerunner, the National Indian Brotherhood, in 1982.
The first headlines appeared last week in a local news report in British Columbia’s southern interior, then quickly spread across Canada, and then around the world: “Mass grave of Indigenous children discovered in Kamloops.”
“‘Horrible History’: Mass Grave of Indigenous Children Reported in Canada.” “Memorials spread for 215 First Nations children found buried in mass grave in B.C.”
Because this history is important and still unfolding, and facts matter, it may be useful to know that, strictly speaking, there was no discovery of a mass grave at the site of the Kamloops residential school last week.
That is not what Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Roseanne Casimir announced last Thursday, in a statement that was reported in such a way as to draw the whole country into a moment of genuine anguish and perfectly righteous outrage.