Friday, Sept. 22, 2023- Stó:lo reveal residential school findings
Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 | ☀️ High 20C
I’ve spent a few months now trying to stop drinking so much coffee. I never quit it entirely, but I was only drinking a cup a day for a long time. I thought I would get used to it, but I never did. So I’m back to a much-less-reasonable amount of coffee per day, and I’m also back to staying entirely awake for the whole day. Exciting times.
How many cups of coffee a day do you consider reasonable?
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Stó:lō Nation reveals information on 158 student deaths at Fraser Valley residential schools
Doeznes of children never returned to their families after attending St. Mary’s Residential School in Mission. 📸 National Centre For Truth And Reconciliation
This story contains disturbing content. Please take care.
Researchers have learned that at least 158 children died as a result of attending residential schools in Stó:lō territories, or while in the care of those institutions. They include one child who died after they broke their spine while jumping rope, documents said, and another who reportedly perished after hitting their head on their bed.
Stó:lō Nation shared the information during a press conference Thursday in Mission.
“The heaviness of the work today can’t be summed into words,” Squiala Chief and Stó:lō Nation Chiefs Council President David Jimmie said.
Researchers said their work is continuing and were careful to be very specific about what has been found during research and geophysical surveying work that has been undertaken at St. Mary’s Residential School in Mission, Coqualeetza Industrial Institute and Coqualeetza Indian Hospital in Chilliwack, and All Hallows School in Yale.
Archival research also isn’t yet complete: the researchers say they have only reviewed a portion of tens of thousands of documents obtained about the schools. But researchers said they have conclusive evidence related to the deaths of 158 children at residentials schools in the Fraser Valley, along with the Coqualeetza Indian Hospital, which frequently treated school-aged children.
The researchers said 37 children associated with Coqualeetza Industrial Institute in Chilliwack are known to have died at, or because of their attendance at, the facility. Of those, 25 died due to illness while cause-of-death information for nine children hasn’t yet been uncovered. Three were reported to have died due to injuries from accidents. The documents said one child died after being “jumped on by another student”; another perished after reportedly hitting their head against a bed under unknown circumstances; and one child died after breaking their spine “while jumping rope.”
At Coqualeetza Indian Hospital, 96 children between the ages of five and 20 are known to have died. Seventy-nine died because of tuberculosis. Seven died from other illnesses—one reportedly from cardiac arrest during a surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids. Researchers have yet to determine the causes of the deaths of the other 10 children.
At St. Mary’s Residential School in Mission, 20 students are known to have died while at, or under the care of, the school. The youngest child was seven. The oldest was 18. Seventeen died from illnesses; the causes of the deaths of the three others is not yet known.
Finally, five children are known to have died while at, or because they studied at, All Hallows School.
The number of children’s deaths is new, but the information about the dire conditions at the residential schools is not. Officials warned for years about the atrocious circumstances, to no avail. Children entering residential schools died at rates comparable to soldiers serving for Canada in the Second World War.
Surveys of potential unmarked burial sites at the facilities also turned up both marked burial sites, and disturbances where unmarked graves may be present. That work is in the early stages and will continue, but Jimmie said it is premature and unhelpful to focus on the potential number of unmarked burial sites . Instead, he said the research should be
Jimmie said the attention should be focused on the primary issue of “why this happened.”
“We are working to account for our people: Who they are, where they died, and where they were buried, but the foundation question is why did this happen? And that question we put back to the governments, churches, and non-Indigenous society at large to answer and account for their actions.”
Jimmie and researchers called out the federal government for not releasing key documents. Jimmie also said a recent cabinet shuffle had disrupted key relationships that were “essential” to work related to residential school research and reconciliation.
“The lack of the federal commitment is another challenge,” he said, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take responsibility and “directly assume” the relationship that has been lost through the shuffle.
Truth and Reconciliation Week begins next Monday and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting online lunch and learns all next week. You can register here.
Need to know
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👮♂️ A Hope teenager has gone missing; the police are asking for the public’s help in finding her [Hope Standard]
💐 An Aldergrove business had its flower pots stolen [Langley Advance Times]
🏗️ A supportive housing building in Chilliwack won’t open until 2024 [Fraser Valley Today]
💵 A former chief financial officer of the Skwah First Nation in Chilliwack pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $300,000 from the band; he was given a two-year conditional sentence [Chilliwack Progress]
➡️ Silver Creek Elementary School in Hope will host Project Heart Canoe to honour residential school survivors [Hope Standard]
🏒 A celebrity realtor is now part of the ownership group of the Vancouver Giants [Langley Advance Times]
👉️ Indigenous storytelling, crafts, and culture will be featured at a truth and reconciliation event in Abbotsford [Abbotsford News]
🚌 Hundreds of kids in Chilliwack are still waiting for their school bus passes [Fraser Valley Today]
🛋️ IDS Vancouver 2023 is on now! Explore top designers, use code IDSVAN2023 for 10% off, shop at the District, and join the Interior Design Show Party for unique installations and music.*
More and more students are expected to arrive in Langley schools in the next few years. 📷️ Inside Creative/Shutterstock
Langley schools facing enrolment pressure
The Langley School District expects nearly 1,000 more students to enrol in local schools over just the next two years.
Projections included in new financial documents show the district expects enrolment to exceed 24,500 students by 2025. That’s up from the 23,500 or so projected this year and 4,000 more students than enrolled in 2020.
The figures underlie the scope of the challenge facing local and provincial school administrators who must accommodate all those students. Several new and expanded schools are being built in the district. But with the district adding around 500 students a year, it will need to build around one school every 12 months just to keep up with growing demand. Last week, Township Mayor Eric Woddward called on the province to provide funding for more schools to keep up with the municipality's exploding population.
The growth is also taxing the district’s ability to find teachers for all the new students. The financial statements notes that rapid growth “requires the District to hire more teaching and educational assistant staff in the classroom, at a time where there are staffing shortages.”
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