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How to talk to your kids about the history of residential schools

Click to play video: 'Talking to your kids about the tragic discovery in Kamloops' Talking to your kids about the tragic discovery in Kamloops
The Moose Hide campaign founders Paul and Raven Lacerte join 'The Morning Show' to share ways parents can talk to kids about Canada’s hidden history of residential schools. – Jun 3, 2021

The recent discovery of 215 Indigenous children buried on the grounds of a former Kamloops residential school has prompted memorials across the country.

Canada has been reckoning with its past while looking for answers on how to move forward.

Father and daughter Paul and Raven Lacerte from the Moose Hide Campaign, a grassroots movement aimed at ending violence against Indigenous women and children, recently joined The Morning Show to discuss the tragedy and how parents can talk to their kids about Canada’s hidden history — and present.

Paul says there has been some “momentum in the reconciliation space” since Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission regarding the deep impact residential schools had on Indigenous communities, but Canadians are now empathizing through a different lens.

Read more: What survivors said about life at the Kamloops Indian Residential School

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“Through the voices of children that died as a result of abuses while attending a school,” he says, adding that that’s something that every student and parent can be moved by.

Raven’s mother was a survivor of the Lejac residential school.

“We’re living those truths,” Raven says. “For my non-Indigenous friends, we didn’t learn it in school as part of our core curriculum and so a lot of them didn’t know about it.”

She adds that her dad would often come to speak to her class about Indigenous culture — “both the history of what happened in the residential schools but also all of the beauty that happens within our culture.”

Click to play video: 'Community traumatized by Kamloops Residential School discovery' Community traumatized by Kamloops Residential School discovery
Community traumatized by Kamloops Residential School discovery – Jun 2, 2021

Paul says for non-Indigenous families, it’s important to create space for these conversations.

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“It’s important for parents to admit that they don’t have all the answers,” he says. “(And) it’s important to be trauma-informed.”

This includes setting the stage for a difficult, but necessary conversation, he adds.

Read more: ‘I want all of us to live with the burden’ — B.C. premier on remains of 215 children found at former residential school

For those who are deeply impacted by this recent news, Paul says it’s paramount that you reach out and lean into those around you.

“This is not something that is only in the rearview mirror as a country,” he says. “This is something that’s happening today and violence against Indigenous women and Indigenous children continues today.”

For more information on the Moose Hide Campaign and how to talk to your kids about Canada’s history of residential schools, watch the full video above. 

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.

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