On May 28, 2021 it was reported in the news media that the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found buried near the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. A second announcement on June 23, 2021 reported in excess of 600 hundred remains of Indigenous children have been found at Marieval Indian Residential School on the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan. Tragically, it brings to light a painfully devastating history of genocide that is all too familiar to Indigenous people in Canada.
In 2018, Ace created the work How can you expect me to reconcile, when I know the truth? during his OCADU Nigig Visiting Artist Residency addressing this horrific and shameful legacy of the residential schools and the pain and suffering the survivors who attended them, along with their families and communities who are still enduring these memories and generational trauma daily in this country.
This work is dedicated to the memory of all children of these residential schools and their families. It is a call for debwewin (truth) and public awareness about this devastating scar on Canada’s history. We must never forget what happened at these schools, and Canada must fully address and implement the Calls to Action tabled by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission if we are ever going to collectively heal.
For more information on the Spanish Residential Schools (St. Joseph for Girls and St. Peter Claver for Boys) in Spanish, Ontario: The Shingwauk Project. Residential School Research, Archive, and Visitor Centre. Algoma University