The ArQuives joins all those grieving the 215 children who Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation discovered buried in unmarked graves near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
We stand in solidarity with the 70,000 Indigenous people living in the City of Toronto, and with Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island, to mourn and honour the lives that were taken, and every person, family, community, and nation affected by the residential school system and re-traumatized by the discovery of this mass grave.
We deplore the systems of colonial violence that perpetuated genocide through the residential school system, and that continue in the form of ongoing systemic neglect and discrimination toward First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.
In a press release, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir expressed that these children’s deaths were known to communities, “but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School”. This is reflective of a larger pattern of under-documentation of abuses and atrocities committed against Indigenous children at residential schools.
We honour the labour of Indigenous people and organisations who have shared and documented the legacy of colonial violence in Canada, and who have outlined what we must do to build a society that honours and respects Indigenous rights, sovereignty, and self-determination.
The ArQuives recognizes that archives and archival practices originate from the same relations of power — colonialism, racism, and white supremacy — that took the lives of children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School and at residential schools across Canada.
The ArQuives came into existence to document the history and legacy of those whose existence was not documented because their lives and existence were not valued.
While we seek to work against structural inequities and to document those whose legacies have been erased, we recognize that the history of The ArQuives as initially an archive of white gay liberation has meant that our organization has represented mostly white, settler, cis, and gay men’s perspectives.
Throughout The ArQuives’ history it has benefited from settler colonialism and has documented LGBTQ2+ history in Canada from a predominantly settler lens.
We are actively working to dismantle systemic forms of archival erasure and marginalization at The ArQuives, and to build relationships of trust and reciprocity.
We support ongoing efforts to decolonize museum and archival collections and practices; toward that end, The ArQuives has initiated a process to develop its own decolonization protocols.
The ArQuives has hired the consultants Inclusive Voices Inc. to develop an intersectional analysis of the collection and conduct community consultations. A final report will guide the 2023-2027 Collection Development plan.
The ArQuives and its Board of Directors have committed to participating in diversity, inclusion, and anti-bias training and to provide it to all staff and volunteers. This process includes taking steps toward reconciliation. As a Board, we are committed to familiarizing ourselves with and responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report and Calls to Action.
We support the calls of 105 First Nations for reparations from the federal government for the collective cultural impact of the residential school system, and urge all entities named (and all who aren’t named) in the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015) to respond to those calls.
In particular, we echo calls 73-75 of the TRC Report for the federal government to fund and support the identification and commemoration of burial sites for all children whose lives were taken by the residential school system.
Additionally, we echo calls for the release of records to First Nations communities, and we call for Catholic entities to release all records requested by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
- The Indian Residential School Survivor Society operates a 24-hour crisis line for those seeking support due to residential school experiences: 1-866-925-4419
- The Government of Ontario maintains a list of helplines and mental health resources