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EDITORIAL: Let us listen, learn, and move forward, together

An historical photograph of St. Joseph’s Mission and Industrial School in the Cariboo. (Photo courtesy of the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin)

In July of 2008, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to former students of residential schools on behalf of the Canadian government.

In July of 2022, on his way back from a visit to Canada, Pope Francis used the word genocide to describe what took place in the residential school system in Canada.

Education takes time, this we know.

But how long should it take to recognize people in your community are hurting and to acknowledge this pain?

The St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School operated for more than 100 years and closed in 1981. Residents of the Cariboo should be aware of the mental, physical and sexual abuse and the impacts of this abuse and broken familial relationships on Indigenous people.

The trauma continues to ripple through and impact families, and yes, even those who did not attend those schools themselves.

When community leaders in positions of authority who we expect to work in partnership with First Nations governments are complicit in the spreading of misinformation, they do real harm, and they take us all backwards. Whether a person was to blame or not, what those who have been hurt need to hear is “I’m sorry.”

In 2024, it is tragic that people and families have to continue to be traumatized in order to counter misinformation. For those who were not impacted by residential schools directly, your role is to listen, to bear witness and to help carry this heavy burden so many have had to bear alone for far too long.

Perhaps then we can all move forward, together.

READ MORE: Williams Lake councillor shares impacts of residential schools

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