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IDPSA releases statement on the tragic discovery on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation

June 2, 2021 — 

The Indigenous Design and Planning Student Association released the following statement on the tragic discovery reported this past week in Kamloops, BC.  

This week we were reminded of an evil truth. 

A truth that our communities have known for years. We stand in solidarity with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation as this discovery opens fresh intergenerational wounds.

As design students, we recognize the integral role that architecture, planning and design had in the development and implementation of the Indian Residential School system. These institutions could not have operated as envisioned, been as widespread as they were, and could not have lasted as long as they did without contributions from the architecture and planning community. 

Schools were often built in a manner that was confining, imposing, and replicated reformatories (TRC, 2015). They were also known to be poorly built, overcrowded, and unsanitary. In many accounts, residential schools had limited access to health care services, clean water supplies, and inadequate drainage deposits (TRC, 2015). Additionally, residential schools were usually established off-reserve in hopes of separating children from their parents, relatives, and cultures. One of the earliest accounts of this assimilative tactic was documented in the 1844 Bagot Commission Report. This is a part of the legacy of our design professions in Canada, and in it is a truth we have to recognize. 

We are the descendants of residential school survivors. Our lives have been impacted by the continued legacy of these institutions. We are the ones that were not meant to be here today, to be making our presence known, voicing injustice. These design professions were not designed with us in mind. They were not designed to retain or respect our stories, histories or connection to the land. They were designed to suppress us.

For our kin who went away and never came back, for those who came back and were forever changed, for those who continue to navigate the intergenerational trauma caused by these institutions, we commit ourselves to upholding that which you could not by honouring what we were, and who we are to become. 

Again, our spirits are lifted by the words of Elder Mary Deleary … even through all of the struggles, even through all of what has been disrupted … we can still hear the voices of the land. [TRC Summary, pg. 9]

 

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