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Mohawk Council of Kahnawá:keTsi nahò:ten kahiatónnion a'arákonEnsaié:nawaseOnhkharéhson Aionkhihsnoé:nen
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Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke
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Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke

MCK issues further Statement regarding loss of 215 Indigenous children


The Mohawk Council of Kahnaw�:ke (MCK) wishes to make the following statement to the community.

This has been one of the most heart-wrenching weeks that anyone in Kahnaw�:ke can recall in recent memory. While we have survived much trauma throughout history, the discovery of 215 Indigenous children in an unmarked mass grave in Kamloops, British Columbia has brought forth an outpouring of grief and outrage that should not be surprising. These innocent children were victims of the Residential School system, a program of assimilation created by the Government of Canada under its first prime minister. Kahnaw�:ke was not spared from the reach of these institutions, as a substantial number of our parents, grand-parents and great grand-parents were taken from their families to be taught, basically, that being �Indian� was wrong.

Despite Canada�s best efforts, we are still here today. There are still survivors of residential schools among us today. While their journeys have included a great deal of healing through the years, this week�s tragedy has re-opened wounds. It is important for all of us, as Kahnawa�kehr�:non, to open our hearts to every person who is feeling upset, angered, or hurt in the aftermath of this week�s news. It has become clear that every single person in this community has been affected.

There is great value and power in acknowledgement. We should not hide from our sadness, and we need to support those who may need an extra hand to help them, or even to provide an ear for them to express their feelings. It is not only healthy and helpful, but it is one of the first and most important components of the healing process. As Kanien�keh�:ka people, we are natural caregivers, and this is the time for us to allow that important quality to come to the forefront. We must help and support one another. We must listen to each other.

We must also acknowledge that there are many different ways of expressing spirituality. All of them provide comfort to significant portions of our community. We must work together to avoid causing more grief and stresses to a community that is already hurting. Now is the time to remain calm, peaceful and respectful. We firmly believe that this is the way forward. It is the road to true healing.

Our recent history has shown that more and more people are embracing traditional teachings and returning to our roots. The MCK fully supports the community�s direction in this regard and continues to advocate for the reinvigoration of our language and culture. In time this will no doubt be at the forefront of spirituality.

In the meantime, the MCK Council of Chiefs will continue to work with all facets of the community to ensure that the 215 children, as well as others we are learning about in recent days, are commemorated in ways that will respect their memory, and that the arena for discussions on healing begins with the community. There are many gestures and actions that we can take to make a positive impact, while maintaining our cultural grounding in peace and respect. The MCK itself has a responsibility to hold the Government of Canada responsible for the reprehensible actions of its predecessors. We invite other bodies in the community to come forth and be part of a dialogue in order for our message to be the strongest and most effective as it could be.

Perhaps these children are providing a gift to us to help us heal. Our grief is collective, and we have always been a collective. They are reminding us that we do our best when we work as one. Let us work together to find our way forward.

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