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A message from Clayton Munro, Associate Vice President, Student and Enrolment Services (Interim)
Dear VCC community,
On Wednesday, June 30, the Ktunaxa First Nation community of ?aq’am let the world know about 182 unmarked graves located near the site of the former St. Eugene Residential School near Cranbook, B.C.
The official statement clarified that it is unknown yet whether the remains belong to adults or children. Still, the message has rung clear that yet another Indigenous community in Canada has unearthed proof of an unjust, painful, and all too recent history.
As we face ongoing news like this, I want to emphasize that the people affected are not long-lost historical figures; they are our own peers and relatives. Having grown up in the Kootenays myself, I know the region well and return there as often as I can. My own grandfather, who passed away last September at the age of 90, is also a survivor of a residential school in Saskatchewan that closed its doors only in 1996.
The hard truth revealed in these announcements is not new to me, but I recognize that for many, there is newness to it. My sincere hope is that this collective reflection will further our understanding that Canada’s residential school system must be called an act of genocide, and that acknowledging this will help lead to transformation.
In my work at VCC, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration for Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) are not things I leave at home. I take them everywhere I go, to every meeting I have. I know VCC’s leadership stands with me on this, and I urge the entire VCC community, employees, and students to do the same.
Reconciliation will be a hard journey, but it’s a journey we need to take together. None of us should be disconnected from this. Get comfortable with the discomfort. Start conversations, reach out, reflect, and please join me in making change.
Associate Vice President, Student and Enrolment Services (Interim)
Vancouver Community College