June 1, 2021
For Englobe’s vast network of Canadian employees, collaborating with First Nations communities is part of our everyday commitment to people and the environment. And we’re proud to be commemorating National Indigenous People’s History Month together with Edmond Collins, Indigenous Relations Manager, whose mission it is to facilitate mutual understanding among us and the more than 600 First Nations across the country. Ed’s mission is to prepare our teams to engage in respectful and meaningful conversations with the Indigenous communities in which our projects reside. These conversations are what help foster a greater awareness of Canada’s diverse cultures, and ensure customs and traditions are of paramount concern when developing this great land of ours.
With this in mind, it is with great sorrow and concern that we recently learned of the discovery of 215 tragic deaths associated with residential schools in Kamloops, British Columbia. We, at Englobe, thought this would be a fitting occasion to impart some key information on the history of residential schools in Canada – one of the many aspects of Ed’s teachings.
The “Indian Act”
Long before Canada was ever a country, the territory and its indigenous inhabitants were governed by the Robinson treaties. These treaties involved important and complex issues such as land ownership and use, environmental protection, finances and education.
In 1876, the “Indian Act” was passed as part of the Canadian Constitution, formalizing the treaty stipulations and recognizing three groups of Indigenous people: First Nations, Métis and Inuit. The Act was rooted in assimilation practices, in an attempt to “civilize” these groups whose communities had been thriving for generations prior to the Europeans’ arrival in North America.
Truth and Reconciliation
In 2007, First Nations people formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and went on to file the largest class action lawsuit in Canadian history, for atrocities that occurred as a result of the residential school program in thousands of communities across the country. Residential schools were church-run institutions that received funding as early as the 1870s from the government to assimilate children into the Christian/European tradition. More than 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their homes, sometimes by force, to attend these schools where abuses took place, sometimes leading to the deaths of vulnerable First Nations children. The last residential school finally closed its doors in the 1990s.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s mandate was to gather the written and oral history of residential schools and to work toward reconciliation between former students and the rest of Canada.
What has the commission done?
The commission collected more than 6,200 statements between 2010 and 2013 from former students. Since then, 31,970 sexual assault claims have been resolved by an independent assessment process, while tens of thousands more are currently in progress. However, these claims only represent incidents of sexual assault that have already been reported by the approximately 80,000 residential school survivors. Out of all this, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action were developed as well as the 45 Rights of Indigenous Peoples enacted by the United Nations.
The commission has also led a Missing Children and Unmarked Graves Project in an attempt to document the number of deaths of children at the schools. This past week, we added another 215 souls to that tragic list. While some progress has been made, there is still a long way to go and a lot more to do, to ensure our Indigenous people are, at long last, recognized and treated as equals in Canadian society.
With this, we at Englobe wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the families and community of Kamloops who have suffered, and are reliving their suffering, through this tragic discovery.
Englobe Corporation is a Canadian leader in applied sciences, particularly in the fields of the environment, geosciences, and materials engineering. Operating in 64 Canadian locations as well as 5 locations in the UK and France, Englobe’s team of over 2,500 resources includes engineers, professionals, technicians, and technical support staff.
Englobe’s services are divided into 5 main segments: Geosciences and Materials, Environment (GME), Treatment, Management and Recycling, Specialty Services, and Engineering. For more than 60 years, the company has conducted investigations, inspection, testing, analyses, assessments, supervision and monitoring of work for its clients.