Statement from Fraser Valley Regional District on the Initial Findings of Xyólhmet ye Syéwiqwélh (Taking Care of Our Children) Project

September 22, 2023

The findings shared yesterday by the Xyólhmet ye Syéwiqwélh team are only just the start of this important work. The team at Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre are not even halfway through the archives and the geophysical data collected still needs to be refined. The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) was heart-broken by the team’s initial confirmation that 158 Indigenous children lost their lives as a result of attending St. Mary’s, All Hallows, and Coqualeetza, which later became Coqualeetza Indian Hospital. We were also informed of the far-reaching effects of this system, with more than 100 student home communities impacted by these three residential schools. Our thoughts are with all these affected families and communities.

We also learned from Chief David Jimmie, President of the Stó:lō Nations Chiefs’ Council, to continue this work the Xyólhmet ye Syéwiqwélh team needs access to both Federal and Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate records, long-term financial commitments, and legislative barriers to be addressed. We hope that these challenges can be addressed in a timely manner.

The information shared with the public yesterday was heart-wrenching. It serves as a reminder of the countless injustices experienced by Survivors of residential schools and their families and communities.

The FVRD stands by the principles of truth and reconciliation and we hope that by learning about this tragic past, we can do better for future generations.

To honour the children whose lives were lost, the flags at the FVRD Offices will be lowered to half-mast until the day after National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

 - Chair Lum