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Our President’s response to the tragic Kamloops discovery

Photo from Parliament Hill showing flowers and shoes and a sign that says, "Every Child Matters".

⚠️Sensitivity Warning⚠️

A message from Build a Dream’s President & Founder, Nour Hachem-Fawaz:

It’s not enough to be saddened and “shocked”.

While I empathize with the difficulty in learning about the 215 children’s bodies found in Kamloops, I don’t believe sharing our condolences is enough.

This is a pivotal moment for leaders across sectors to take action. I urge you to be angry… I urge you to feel compelled to take meaningful action.

As an organization, the first step we took was to look within. What can we do differently that can lead to change? What can we do differently to learn? What could we do differently to be allies?

  • We need to deepen our understanding of Indigenous histories and ongoing contemporary injustices:
    • Indigenous Canada – A free course offered by the University of Alberta that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.
    • National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation – The NCTR is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations.
    • Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action – In 2015, following interviews with more than 6,000 survivors affected by residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) published its final report which included 94 calls to action. Only 10 have been completed.
    • Beyond 94 – A CBC project that monitors the progress of the TRC’s Calls to Action.
    • Secret Path – An animated film and documentary based on the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie’s ten poems created about Chanie Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who fled a residential school and died while trying to walk home to his family 400 miles away.
  • We need to help fund Indigenous support organizations:
    • Indian Residential School Survivors Society – IRSSS provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas.
    • Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) – NWAC exists to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women
    • Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE) – CRE is a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth who believe that in order to bridge the gap between Canada’s peoples and work towards reconciliation, we need to become educated and aware of the teachings, triumphs, and daily realities of Indigenous communities
    • Indspire – Indspire educates, connects, and invests in First Nations, Inuit and Métis people to help achieve their highest potential
  • We need to bring attention to the injustices happening today when we are at the decision-making table.
  • We need to invite Indigenous leaders to the table.
  • We need to honour and respect Indigenous voices by taking meaningful action.

Our organization is taking every action listed above. Will you join us?

In 2008, the front page of Kamloops This Week highlighted claims “that the land surrounding the former Kamloops Indian Residential School contained the remains of children…” The claims were dismissed by the Catholic Church: “The schools failed on a number of levels, on a number of occasions. But that is a far cry from what he is suggesting, which is to say there was a deliberate plan to perpetrate genocide against the First Nations.”

We must accept the truths before healing can begin for our Indigenous communities.

As an immigrant, I vow to do better. This is not the Canada I want to be proud of as I raise my children. The Canada I want to be proud of is the one that will seek truth and honour and accept that we could do better. That we WILL do better.

Acknowledging the history feels ugly and uncomfortable because it highlights unspeakable, horrific and evil actions. But we MUST acknowledge it.

The only way to do better is to address the history and the role that both leaders and the system played.

I am sorry and I will do better.

Nour Hachem-Fawaz
President & Founder
Build a Dream

How can you help your staff in these times?

  • Reach out to your employees and give them time to process
  • Be thoughtful in your approach, be respectful and sensitive
  • Educate yourself and your staff (don’t put the burden on those affected)

Please contact The Indian Residential School Survivors Society at 1-800-721-0066 or call their 24-hour Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 if you require emotional support or assistance.

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