A year of grief and reckoning: Statement by President Steenkamp

A cloudy orange sunrise over a silhouette of trees.

It has been one year since the revelation of the likely burial sites of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Sorrow has been compounded again and again since that sad day, as more sites have steadily been revealed on other former residential school grounds.

It has been a year of grieving; for those of us who are settlers on this land, it has also been a year of reckoning. We have the responsibility to recognize those sites as a direct outcome and damning indictment of colonialism and associated racist policies that sought to expunge Indigenous culture and identity.

Royal Roads University is engaged in a continuing dialogue with First Nations partners and neighbours around justice and healing, and I am constantly struck by the openness and generosity of those conversations in the face of such deep sadness. This past year has reminded me of both how long the path of reconciliation must be, and how urgent it is that we walk it together.

We share the sorrow of the Tkemlúps te Secwépemc on this day. And we extend our deepest sympathies and solidarity to them, to residential school survivors and their families, and to Indigenous communities and peoples everywhere.