Mourning in Kamloops: How has the local Jewish community reacted?

The pow wow in Kamloops after the remains of 215 children were found at a residential school. (Supplied photo)

Last week, news broke that the remains of 215 children were found at a residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Local and national Indigenous communities have been mourning this tragedy for days since the revelation, while also commemorating the lives of these innocent kids, who were taken from their homes under longstanding Canadian government policy. The school operated for nearly 80 years, from 1893 to 1977, mostly under the eye of the Catholic Church.

The news has put Kamloops in the international spotlight. Across Canada, people have built shrines of children’s shoes. Governments and schools have lowered flags. Teddy bears have been piled on the steps of Parliament Hill and city halls.

Members of Kamloops’ Jewish community, just 60 people strong, were able to visit and mourn with their grieving Indigenous neighbours and friends. Nine local Jewish residents attended the nightly healing and drumming circles in person. On today’s episode, one of those residents—the president of the Kamloops Jewish community, Heidi Coleman—shares her experiences with us.

What we talked about:

  • Visit the website for the museum that has been created out of the former residential school: tkemlups.ca
  • Heidi Coleman is the CEO of the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation in Kamloops. Learn more at rihfoundation.ca

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. Find more great Jewish podcasts at thecjn.ca.

The best is yet to come.

This website—the one you’re on right now—is just the tip of the iceberg. The CJN is building a whole new platform, which will be launching summer 2021. Jewish Canadians will be able to find community events, listen to relevant podcasts, connect with national networks and, of course, read breaking news stories, in-depth analysis and unique perspectives that matter. Subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on social media, to be the first to see our newest iteration go live.