On behalf of Little Flower Academy, I would like to express our collective and profound sorrow over the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Our particular thoughts and prayers are with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, other affected Indigenous communities, and with all who lost family members and loved ones. We also pray for the wisdom to learn from past mistakes and to find paths towards reconciliation.
Over the last several days, we have received information that is both shocking and distressing. We have started the process to take action that will move us towards reconciliation. In this instance, we believe the first step is to engage with those who have suffered and survived the abuses of our colonial past. We have engaged with an Indigenous Knowledge Carrier and cultural anthropologist, whose profession is First Peoples’ Community Relations. We have also reached out and started a dialogue with our local Indigenous communities. We are blessed to have received a sincere openness to have this conversation. The advice and wisdom we receive through these relationships has informed our immediate response and will continue to guide how we move forward.
While this was our first step, we see change in how LFA teaches and communicates about residential schools in our history. We will continue to follow BC Ministry of Education guidelines on the delivery of Indigenous history, but plan to do more. We commit to acknowledging the role of our school’s founders, the Sisters of St. Ann, when teaching and talking about residential schools. Faculty has already begun the process of developing a comprehensive cross-curricular plan to ensure a coordinated and authentic approach to teaching about historical and contemporary injustices, the impacts of colonization, and First Peoples Principles of Learning.
The school also plans to take specific steps towards a pathway that authentically has a role in reconciliation with our Indigenous sisters and brothers. The tangible changes will happen in the coming months. Foremost, we are committed to putting the voice of survivors in our teaching about residential schools. We will hear survivors in their own words. On advice received, we will strive to emphasize cultural traditions as much as the history of residential schools. The form that this takes will be communicated to our community. Students will see a change in our retreat program, including comprehensive changes to the Grade 11 retreat. We have established a Truth and Reconciliation Committee of students and faculty. We will update our website and the physical History Wall at LFA. We will further expand our library’s indigenous collection to elevate the voice of our First Peoples. We will reflect on the wording of our Mission and Vision at the school.
There is deep distress in our community about our connection to this tragedy. The school is, however, independent and has been since the early 1990s. We exist to give the very best education to this generation of young women, so they may know their voice in a more caring and just society.
We are aware that the alumnae will gather at Little Flower at 10:00 a.m. on Friday for what has been described to us by an organizer as a "peaceful memorial". We welcome an opportunity to join our alumnae in this gathering and extend the invitation to any alumnae who may not have seen it on social media. Although masks and social distancing are required on school grounds, we will open the school courtyard to safely accommodate those who come, in solidarity, to honour the 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School as well as others who have been lost and harmed by our Canadian residential school system.
Board Statement on LFA's Truth & Reconciliation Response
The Members and Directors of the Board of the Jane Rowan Society, which owns and operates Little Flower Academy have issued this statement (PDF) on LFA and our plans to move forward on a path of truth and reconciliation.
Little Flower Academy acknowledges that we are privileged to gather on the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ / sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, on whose ancestral lands we live, learn, play and worship. We are grateful for their stewardship and traditional knowledge which have sustained the areas we love.