Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples response to Kamloops Residential School Discovery

Statement / June 1, 2021

This statement deals with topics that may cause trauma invoked by memories of past abuse. We recognize some people may not want to read further to minimize the risk of being triggered.

Ottawa, Ontario -The most recent discovery of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. is tragic news that impacts each and every one of us differently.

As the Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples, my thoughts and prayers are with all of our current and former Indigenous Defence Team members and their families.

June is Indigenous History Month in Canada and I will be using it as an opportunity to continue to learn more about the experiences and lives of Indigenous Peoples and the indignities and atrocities they have suffered. I encourage you to do the same.

While it may be difficult to express how you are feeling, it is always better to talk about things than to suffer in silence. I would like to remind all Defence Team members of the importance of supporting one another and being there for each other, within and across teams. Talk to your friends, colleagues, supervisors, mental health professionals and health care providers. These conversations may be difficult but they are necessary.

I encourage all Defence Team members to show your support to your Indigenous friends and colleagues in the coming days by offering, without expectation of acknowledgement, your friendship, your presence and your empathy. It is important that we all continue learning about what needs to be done to actively participate in reconciliation.

With a heavy heart,
Major-General Michel-Henri St-Louis
Acting Commander Canadian Army
Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples

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