Please allow me to begin by expressing my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the two ladies – Trina Hunt and Melissa Elizabeth Steele – who were found within our territory over the last few months. Our hearts are with you as you deal with the senseless loss of your loved ones.
I am writing today to provide you with some of my thoughts and wishes with respect to the children found in Kamloops. This is evidence within a crime scene that must be treated with great respect and dignity. I completely trust and support our Tk’emlups te Secwepemc relatives in leading the efforts and ceremonies for our children.
Justin Trudeau’s statement, “It is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history,” does not acknowledge the true issue, the Indian Act. Most Indigenous people in Canada are still governed by this racist piece of legislation. The language used by the Prime Minister suggests that this behavior only happened in the past. Genocide of Indigenous people in this country is still happening today, despite political leaders using language suggesting otherwise. If the Indian Act continues to be enforced by the ones who imposed it upon Indigenous people, we will not be able to fully comprehend the destruction it creates daily for all people in this country.
To the Faith Groups and Churches in the Hope area, I respectfully ask that you have discussions about the Indian Act, the 215 children found in Kamloops and how your respective organizations contribute to this behaviour. It is a hard discussion that is a necessary one, and I offer my time to meet with you in a respectful way. I feel that with conversation we can find a way to move forward in constructive ways in our local community.
To the residents of Hope, please use this opportunity to learn about the issues that are currently happening today, how they impact Indigenous people, how they nurture resentment from those who do not understand, how society is reporting and celebrating the very issues that keep us separate. Please think about the celebrations held within the Town of Hope and how they contribute to the ongoing trauma; celebrations of conquering the town, celebrations of conquering the land we live on and so forth. I am always open to respectful discourse on how we can tailor these annual celebrations to properly reflect history and current events and celebrate our communities moving forward together.
To everyone who is reading this, please demonstrate your feelings in a safe way that reflects your efforts and is considerate to all others who may not share the same feelings but may be open to seeing yours.
Ken Hansen, Chief, Yale First Nation