UBCIC Stands with ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation on Release of Phase 1 Report on Residential School Research and Scanning

News Release
April 11, 2024

UBCIC Stands with ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation on Release of Phase 1 Report on Residential School Research and Scanning

(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/ Vancouver, B.C. – April 11, 2024) Yesterday, ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation announced the Phase 1 results of ʔahʔiiḥčp ʔukʷiłʔiqḥmuut (Honouring our Ancient Ones) Residential School Research Project. Their careful, in depth research into two Indian residential schools located within their territories has detailed likely and potential unmarked grave locations at the Ahousaht Indian Residential School and the Christie Indian Residential School, as well as unknown features that require further investigation.

ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation is choosing not to publicly release numbers of potential graves, “remembering that each figure is a child and that ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation would like to honour those children and their families.”

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) shares our deepest condolences to the families whose children were stolen and taken to these residential schools and our utmost respect and prayers for healing for all survivors, the ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation leadership, community members, and investigative team.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated, “Our hearts are with the ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation and all Indian residential school survivors amidst the weight of yesterday’s announcement and in light of increasing public desensitization towards the atrocities of residential schools.” Grand Chief Phillip continued, “As our relatives undertake this important work to bring to light the painful criminal history of residential schools, I urge empathy and active listening. We cannot allow the collective fabric of our society to become dangerously numb and apathetic to the ugly truths of colonization upon which this country is founded. Canadians’ ability to maintain sensitivity and humanity in the face of continued announcements about the truths of Indian residential schools is essential; it will require vulnerability, courage, and resilience to do away with Canada’s rosy colonial narrative and advance meaningful reconciliatory action and redress once and for all.”

“UBCIC unwaveringly stands with ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation, survivors of Indian residential schools and families who have been forever impacted by policies of forced assimilation led by Canada and partner churches. Yesterday’s announcement is another stark reminder that these harms are not relics of the past but are living memory and are felt deeply in Indian country. I know first-hand the history and impact of residential schools; my late Mother was taken from Ahousaht and forced to attend Christie Residential School,” stated Chief Don Tom, UBCIC Vice-President. “It is past time that survivors are believed by Canadian society and are recognized for their courage and wisdom; many have undergone the (re)traumatizing labour of testifying for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which found irrefutable evidence of widespread physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse, poor health and living conditions, disease, and deaths. UBCIC calls for the public to read the Final Report and Calls to Action and for all levels of government to implement these recommendations and provide capacity for culturally-appropriate healing and survivor supports.”

“UBCIC upholds the good work of ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation conducting rigorous archaeological and archival investigations and acknowledges the road ahead. First Nations across the country have demonstrated exemplary leadership in navigating complex investigations and have showcased the power of Indigenous-led research grounded in respect for culture and our people. ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ (Ahousaht) First Nation’s planning, preparation and investigation to date has taken nearly three years of hard work. These careful efforts are critical in the face of rising residential school denialism which seeks to question survivors, the realities and harms of Canada’s policies of forced assimilation through residential schools, and the knowledge of experts. It is in these moments that we must stand with our relatives and uphold the truth, for history has shown time and time again the dangerous consequences of the alternative,” concluded Chief Marilyn Slett, UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer.  

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support for survivors and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour service at 1-866-925-4419.

Mental health counselling and crisis support are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat.


Media inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 604-290-6083
Chief Marilyn Slett, Secretary-Treasurer, 250-957-7721

UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

For more information, please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca

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