On May 27, 2021 we received news as a nation that numerous unmarked graves were discovered containing the remains of 215 children, killed during their forced tenure at Kamloops Indian Residential School. Though the discovery of this specific mass grave and its location was news, the knowledge that thousands of Indigenous children never returned from residential schools, and are still unaccounted for, is not. The discovery of this grave is a stark reminder of often ignored facts. From 1831 to 1997 over 150,000 children were forcibly removed from their families and placed in a boarding school system purposefully designed to eradicate Indigenous culture, language, and religion using violent and abusive means. This sparked years of trauma and grief on the part of these children, their families, and their communities. This is only one example of the systemic, and often violent, racism that has been faced by Indigenous peoples throughout Canadian history.
We stand in grief and solidarity with Indigenous Peoples across Canada as they face the trauma caused by the church and the Canadian government through residential schools, and many other forms of systemic and ongoing racism. We acknowledge the impacts that colonialism, systemic racism, and violence have on members of our community, both professionally and personally. We recognize that our STEM institutions are not free of racism, and pledge to take an active part in decolonization and reconciliation.
In light of this recent news and the ongoing discrimination being faced by Indigenous Peoples, we at the CIC and its constituent societies (the Canadian Society for Chemistry, the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering, and the Canadian Society for Chemical Technology) are reaffirming our commitment to evaluating our institutional structure and actively incorporating anti-racist policies and practices. We are currently implementing a self-identification survey as part of CCCE 2021 to monitor our own progress towards eliminating barriers and promoting the advancement and inclusion of equity-seeking, marginalized, and under-represented groups. We plan to expand the use of the self-identification survey in the near future. We are also running a series of career-focused webinars with the purpose of opening space for, and a dialogue with, members of equity-seeking, marginalized, and under-represented communities and expanding their career opportunities.
At the end of this statement, we are including a list of resources. We call on all of our members to make a lasting commitment to active participation in reconciliation. Do not turn away from these uncomfortable truths. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable and join these vital conversations about systemic racism and the continued impacts of colonialism.
Ways to support Indigenous Peoples across Canada and work towards reconciliation:
- Visit the Settlers Take Action for a growing list of resources and action items.
- Find out whose traditional territory you live and work on by visiting Native Land.
- Become familiar with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. Start with the 94 calls to action.
- Explore the resources provided by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
- Listen to Historica Canada’s podcast series on residential schools, and on the experiences of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
- Email your MP and find out what they are doing to work towards reconciliation.
- Sign the petition calling for a national day of mourning for the lost children of residential schools.
- Learn how to be an active bystander
UBC Really? Campaign
Hollaback! Bystander Resources