With the devastating discovery of a mass grave containing 215 Indigenous children who were killed while attending the former residential school at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, we at the SGPS would first like to send our sincere condolences to all of the families, communities and nations grieving the loss of their children. It is our priority to ensure our Indigenous members know that we are here to help you find the support you need, and encourage you to reach out to us at any time. Our Indigenous Student Liaison, Brittany McBeath, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Commissioner, Monica Garvie, can be reached at email@example.com. Indigenous students who have been affected by these recent reports in need of immediate support can also contact the 24-hour Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
This recent discovery serves as yet another brutal reminder of the genocide continually perpetuated by the Canadian nation-state and educational institutions against Indigenous Peoples. In the words of Mayorga et al., (2019): this “… is not an isolated historical event, nor a regrettable vestige of times passed. It is, rather, an enduring reality, re/structured by the settler insecurities of living on stolen land, and reckoning with the violence of their own existence.” Indigenous communities continue to experience violence through the current child welfare system, MMIW, youth suicide, unsafe drinking water, and high incarceration rates of Indigenous people.
As a Society supporting graduate and professional students at Queen’s, we don’t just want to denounce atrocities retrospectively. We recognize that it is our responsibility to advocate for decolonization throughout the university on an ongoing basis while challenging the colonial structures ingrained within ourselves and our organization as well. We are committed to creating a safer space for Indigenous students within the Queen’s community. We have mobilized this commitment through recent actions, including 1) hiring additional Deputies to work within the Indigenous and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion portfolios and 2) advocating for increased action on past recommendations from reports like PICRDI. We will continue to pressure the university to seek justice for continuing anti-Indigenous racist acts such as those perpetrated against Four Directions last year and residents of Chown Hall in 2019.
We are committed to the continuous work of decolonization, which includes being open to listening, learning and examining the ways in which we perpetuate colonialism on our campus, and then actively changing. We want all of our members to know that we are always open to hearing from you on ways we can continue this work. If you would like to provide feedback anonymously, you can do so here: https://sgps.click/anonform.
For those non-Indigenous members who might want to educate themselves further on how they can be part of the work of decolonization, we encourage you to look at the following resources, and to seek out others yourselves: