Statement from Mayor Wells on the discovery of a mass grave of Indigenous children in Kamloops

May 31, 2021

Following the discovery of a mass grave at the site of the former Kamloops Residential School, Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells shared the following statement at the May 31, 2021 Committee of the Whole meeting in honour of the victims of residential schools:

"Today we are pausing our planned city council meeting to acknowledge the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC.

This discovery is the confirmation of long-held assertions by Indigenous families and First Nations in BC and across Canada that their children, tragically and forcibly separated from their loved ones and their rich cultures, never returned home.

We mourn the loss of these innocent children, some believed to be as young as three years old.

We do not yet know their names or where they are from.

While this discovery may be a shock to many, it is sad proof for residential school survivors and families who have been sounding the alarm about these lost children for many years.

This was just one of over 100 residential schools across our country, including five here on Vancouver Island. Over more than a century, 160,000 children in Canada were forcibly removed from their families.  These children were subjected to unimaginable cruelty, experimentation, and abuse; and the deliberate erasure of their language, traditions, and spirituality. The goal of residential schools was to “Kill the Indian in the Child” with the last one closing in 1996.

While we hope this discovery will allow some families to find closure, we acknowledge that there are countless others who are waiting for news of their family’s own lost children.

We will now pause for one minute of silence in honour of these children and to reflect on the tragic, dark legacy of all residential schools in Canada."

Mayor Bob Wells
City of Courtenay