“O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah…” (Quran 4:135)
On Thursday, Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc (Kamloops) First Nation confirmed that the bodies of 215 Indigenous children were discovered in an unmarked mass grave at a former Kamloops, BC residential school.
The horrific experience that these children were subject to is unthinkable — but it was not unique. According to the Anishinabek Overview of the Indian Residential School System, the Canadian government operated 139 residential schools from the 1870s to 1996 when the last residential school closed in Saskatchewan. It is estimated that 150,000 Indian, Inuit, and Métis children were forced to attend these schools. This does not include residential schools operated by religious institutions (such as the one in Kamloops), or provincial governments.
The LeadNow Organization in Vancouver has said that “ the Architects of the residential school system explicitly stated the purpose of residential schools was to forcibly assimilate Indigenous peoples to eliminate the knowledge of Indigenous cultures, histories, and traditions.”
As Muslims we condemn in the strongest possible terms the historical colonization project and the genocide of First Nations – as defined by the U.N. Declaration on Genocide. We stand in allyship and solidarity with our First Nations brothers and sisters – on whose unceded land our Masjids, homes, and offices are located.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has 94 calls to action, including 6 which directly relate to the residential school systems. We ask that you take the time to read these calls to actions and amplify the calls for justice from Indigenous peoples — not just as Canadians, but as Muslims.
The BC Muslim Association