Squamish Nation video remembering residential schools: 'In their silence, they woke the world'

'They woke the world'

“In their silence, they woke the world” – these powerful seven words are spoken at the end of a short video released by the Squamish Nation to remember the many lives lost and impacted by residential schools.

The moving video comes after Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation Chief Rosanne Casimir shared the heartbreaking news on May 28 that the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site.

“To support our people in their grief and promote healing in light of the recent discoveries at former residential schools, the S?wx?wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) filmed a video response,” Kelley McReynolds, director of Ayás Mén?men Child and Family Services, the team that produced the video, explained.

“For far too long, these schools taught our children to be ashamed of their culture and language. This video celebrates that we are still here and encourages our people to take comfort and pride in their culture during this difficult time.”

The video shows Indigenous peoples from Squamish Nation and other First Nations communities combined with powerful voiceovers. In just 1 minute and 35 seconds, the video captures poignant thoughts and feelings of Indigenous peoples that send a strong message.

It starts with Jared Van Somer of the Kwadacha Nation, Fort Ware, Prince George, saying, “I am not a footnote in a history textbook.” More voices of First Nations peoples follow, saying: “I am not a mascot. I am not something else. I am not a tourist attraction. I am not a category in the Indian Act. We are not a statistic.

“We are the original caretakers.

"We are still here.

“We are the children and grandchildren of stolen lives. And we will not be buried."

The video ends with Squamish Nation Elder Jackie Gonzales saying, “In their silence, they woke the world" and 215+ appearing on the screen.

More BC News