The Government of Canada, the Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) announced $12.5 million in federal funding towards the construction of a new healing centre at Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc.

This safe space will provide trauma-informed programs to support individuals and their families in their spiritual, mental, emotional and physical healing. Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc has selected an architect to lead the construction process and will be working with the membership to create a welcoming design.

“Trust goes a long way when words and actions are in sync. Following through with the commitment to provide sustainable funding for the healing centre, which will support the need of addressing the intergenerational mental trauma caused by the experience at Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS), is a step towards that positive path forward,” said Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir, Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc.

The federal funding is in addition to previously committed funds by the FNHA toward healing initiatives at Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc. Following the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the site of the former KIRS, the FNHA supported Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc with $2.5 million in funding to help address the intergenerational and residential school impacts experienced by the community, as well as other communities during that difficult time. The FNHA has also provided an additional $1.3 million to assist the community with the engagement and planning, and will continue to work in partnership with the community to establish this innovative healing centre.

“The legacy of residential schools is one that has tried to take our culture, language, and identity from us, causing profound damage. The healing house will provide culturally appropriate supports that will help to address these long-standing impacts. It will support healing for our Survivors and those impacted by Kamloops Indian Residential School, leading to healthier futures for our children and those not yet born. We look forward to working with the First Nations Health Authority on the implementation of our healing house and providing opportunities for our people to thrive with resources that will now be available,” said Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services.

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Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc chose, by a community referendum, to keep the Kamloops Indian Residential School building that the federal government formerly owned. The community views its preservation as a reminder of the ongoing legacy of the residential school system, ensuring that its history is never forgotten.

Canada has also committed up to $1.5 million to assess the feasibility of possible structural renovations and design upgrades to the Kamloops Indian Residential School building, with the goal of determining what funding would be needed for future work. This contribution stems from the $100.1 million, announced by the Government of Canada in August 2021, to help communities begin to address on-reserve school buildings and associated sites that were once used for residential schools.

“The FNHA is committed to collaborative and innovative approaches with First Nations communities and other health partners to ensure the provision of culturally safe mental health and wellness supports for First Nations people in BC. In partnership with Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc and Indigenous Services Canada, FNHA is pleased to fund and support the new healing house that will help to address needs for trauma-based healing. These funds are separate from additional funds earlier provided by FNHA and other federal and provincial partners for healing and related needs at Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc,” said Richard Jock, CEO, First Nations Health Authority.

Featured image: (First National Health Authority)

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