Honouring Those Lost and Acting for Change

Jun 1, 2021

Dean Trevor YoungAt the Temerty Faculty of Medicine we support President Gertler’s statement regarding the discovery of remains of 215 Indigenous children found at a former residential school in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory. We cannot imagine the suffering and pain those children endured and the trauma their families and communities continue to face.

We are aware that this discovery has occurred in the context of the inquest into the death of Joyce Echaquan and the racist treatment she received by healthcare professionals prior to her death.  

Tragically, while neither of these events is unprecedented for Indigenous peoples, both contribute to the cumulative trauma that generations of Indigenous peoples have suffered since the arrival of settlers on Turtle Island. These events are reminders of how much further we have to go to address the horrifying and ongoing impacts of settler colonialism on the rights, experiences, and health and well-being of Indigenous peoples. 

We recognize the individual and collective grief Indigenous communities are experiencing right now.  At this time, we would like to encourage our non-Indigenous community members to express solidarity with and compassion for Indigenous community members, and to commit to advancing truth and reconciliation in all our institutions.

At the Temerty Faculty, in accordance with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, our obligation and commitment are to work with and seek ongoing guidance from Indigenous communities to ensure a present and a future – in our education, research, and advocacy – where these events are neither forgotten nor repeated in our healthcare and academic environments. 

To support this commitment, the Faculty is actively working to improve the Indigenous learner experience; strengthen admissions pathways; deepen the Indigenous health curriculum; advance Indigenous faculty and staff; offer Indigenous governance and guidance for leadership; strengthen Indigenous community partnerships; and educate around cultural safety and anti-racist practice.

For Indigenous members of the Temerty Faculty community seeking connection and support, there are resources available:

  • Please contact indigenoushealth.support@utoronto.ca or First Nations House at U of T.
  • An Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress because of his or her residential school experience.
  • Native Women’s Association of Canada offers in-house elder support at 888-664-7808.
  • The Government of Canada has a Hope for Wellness line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca.
  • Anishnawbe Health Toronto also offers support.

Together we must honour those lost and act collectively to bring about positive change, better health and greater well-being for all Indigenous peoples.

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