A sign is seen outside of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C. on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The remains of 215 children have been found buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Snucins

A sign is seen outside of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C. on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The remains of 215 children have been found buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Snucins

Religious order that ran residential school renews apology to Tk’emlups te Secwepemc

Father Ken Thorson says that order pledges to help with investigation into mass grave

  • Jun. 1, 2021 9:00 a.m.

Kamloops This Week

The spokesperson for the religious order that ran the Kamloops Indian Residential School for decades said the group has reached out to Tk’emlups te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir to offer assistance and to express it sympathies following the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former school.

Father Ken Thorson is with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the religious congregation that administered the Kamloops residential school a few years after it opened in 1890 until 1969, when the federal government assumed control.

“I want people to know that the Oblates are going to do what we can to assist the band with their investigation,” Thorson said, noting he had emailed Casimir on the weekend and will attempt to contact her again this week.

“And also, certainly, to express our sympathies. I mean, clearly we were part of a system that long did significant amount of damage to First Nations communities in Kamloops and in so many other places across the country. And so we’re trying to do what we can, along with others, to work towards reconciliation.”

While the Catholic Church as a whole has not apologized for its role in residential schools in Canada, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate did offer an apology in 1991 and later paid out money in lawsuits and contributed to the $3 billion in compensation given to 28,000 claimants who were residential school survivors.

Thorson said the records from the Kamloops Indian Residential School are with the Royal BC Museum, noting the Victoria museum had been in contact with the Secwépemc Museum at Tk’emlups regarding school records before the May 27 announcement regarding the remains of the children being found.

Thorson noted the Oblates have priests and brother across Canada.

“And so, there may be records elsewhere. We’re looking into that right now,” he said. “We are looking into that and whatever else we have related to the school, Of course, we would want to make that available to the investigation.”

In the apology, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate state that they understand the heavy toll that years of colonialism and residential schools played in the intergenerational trauma present in Indigenous communities today.

In part, the statement read:

“We apologize for the part we played in the cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious imperialism that was part of the mentality with which the peoples of Europe first met the aboriginal peoples and which consistently has lurked behind the way the Native peoples of Canada have been treated by civil governments and by the churches.

We were, naively, part of this mentality and were, in fact, often a key player in its implementation. We recognize that this mentality has, from the beginning, and ever since, continually threatened the cultural, linguistic, and religious traditions of the Native peoples.”

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is offering toll-free 24-hour telephone support for survivors and their families at 1 (866) 925-4419. The =KUU-US Crisis Line Society’s 24-hour line is at 1-800-588-8717.

READ MORE: First Nation MLA says B.C. must do more for Indigenous reconciliation after residential school deaths

READ MORE: ‘Delicate, sensitive process:’ Expert talks on searching for burial sites with radar


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Indigenousresidential schools

Just Posted

The river behind the ball field. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Pulled by the flow: river stirs up childhood memories

Gazette editor makes trek through Port Hardy wilderness to swim in the river

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Alert Bay council has decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations. (Alertbay.ca photo)
Alert Bay council cancels Canada Day celebrations

The decision was made in wake of the mass graves being found at former residential schools

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read