Presumably in honour of Canada’s upcoming 150 milestone, Canadian settlers preserve markers of their settler colonial heritage and celebrate a narrative settlers and immigrants have been told for centuries: the urbanization of empty, undeveloped land called Canada.
Except, not even a few years ago, Canada itself conceded that the land was not “terra nullius” or empty, as white historians often tell.
How many children indigenous to the Fraser Valley, connected to the land by thousands of years, were taken from their families between 1867 and 1930?
How many went to St. George’s Indian Residential School up the Fraser River? How many never made it home from Coqualeetza Institute in Chilliwack?
What of the children buried at St. George’s in unmarked graves, in Mission?
If only we settlers could dedicate our resources to finding and honouring the bodies of these children, literally the backbones of this land that we develop on.
Are there not children today in Coquitlam going to a high school built on top of the graves, the bones of children lost to disease and abuse in the last 150 years?
What would we as settlers think if, in exchange for providing refuge, our children were stolen and buried, only to be dug up or paved over for development?