Walking in the Pacific Spirit Park yesterday my thoughts were of the 215 children whose remains have just been discovered buried on the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. These children, some as young as three, were taken from families across British Columbia who they never saw again and died often far from home and were then never accounted for.
What a tragic, shameful and heartbreaking part of our Canadian history. On Friday, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) said it mourned alongside the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. “There are no words to express the deep mourning that we feel as First Nations people, and as survivors, when we hear an announcement like this,” wrote Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the UBCIC. “Today we honour the lives of those children, and hold prayers that they, and their families, may finally be at peace.”
I send my heartfelt condolences to all the families and ask that you to keep the memory of these beautiful lost children in your thoughts as they will always be in mine.
On a day that the deaths of 59 children, often dying together with their parents and siblings buried in the rubble of the only homes they have ever known, a day that their deaths have been described as “unfortunate” and considered collateral damage, one cannot help feeling a sense of helplessness and despair. Six-year-old Suzy Eshkuntana was one of those children, trapped for seven hours before being rescued today after an attack that killed her mother and four siblings who were with her in their family home that was destroyed around them. To celebrate her young life being saved, and in memory of the family she has lost I have decided to take some time out to create a painting in their honor. I hope when I return this tragic time in our shared history will be close to being resolved for all parties. Know of course that my thoughts will continue to be always with all those families and especially the children suffering such pain and loss so far away.
Congratulations to Nancy, Nazde and the whole University of British Columbia student production team, together with all of the inspiring performers and artists, who last night gave us a never-to-be-forgotten virtual 27th Spring Gala that was simply an absolute triumph. Heartfelt thanks and bravos to everyone who worked so hard to make this year’s Gala a reality. 👏👏👏
This is hell on earth and we must not turn away. It is not about whose side you are on or who you pray to, it is not about who wins or who loses, it is about the suffering and loss of life of innocent children, it is about the loss of humanity and a universal failure of leadership in a world that has lost its way. Wishing Eid Mubarak to dear friends tonight is hard knowing that their hearts are breaking. I hope they know I am thinking of them, together with all grieving families so far away but yet so close.
As National Nurses Week begins in Canada, a big, big thank you to all of our wonderful nurses who have been, and continue to be, there for us each and every day. You are all true heroes. Today we also remember Diana Law who was the first BC nurse to die from COVID-19 just a few weeks ago. I know she will be very much in the thoughts of all of her colleagues at Peace Arch Hospital as she is in mine today. Wishing all of our nurses here in BC and across the country a very Happy National Nurses Week 🇨🇦
On this Mother’s Day I find myself thinking about all the grieving mothers who lost their beautiful children in Kabul yesterday in the horrific bombing outside their school, yet another “Massacre of the Innocents,” as I remember our own wonderful late mother whose favorite expression could not be more relevant today, “Count Your Blessings.” Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers who are the real heroes in their families and especially to the amazing mums in our own family. You are all loved beyond words.
The reunions of Mino and his brother Erick with their mother Keldy Mabel Gonzales Brebe, and Bryan Chavez with his mother Sandra Ortiz, all separated so cruelly in the fall of 2017, are moments for which there are no words but simply feelings of joy and relief for them all.
So many more families must be reunited but these happy reunions are moments for celebration.
Some good news yesterday that four of the children separated from their parents at the US border in 2017, one of whom was only three, will be reunited with their parents this week. Sadly the parents of far too many have yet to be located.