Seneca Nation Paying Tribute to Residential Schools Children

The Seneca Nation of Indians plans to pay tribute to the disastrously deceased children whose bodies were found earlier in one of the largest Canadian residential schools. Teddy bears, children’s shoes, and a sign saying Every Child Matters were displayed before the tribe’s court building which was formerly a part of the Thomas Indian School, in order to honor the lives of the tragically lost souls.

On June 1, First Nations Chief Rosanne Casimir revealed that the remains of 215 indigenous children have been found buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School. In light of this Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has requested for the national flags to be flown at half-staff to honor the children that have lost their lives in such a cruel way.

Tragic Events

Canisius College Professor Emeritus Keith Burich is the author of the book “The Thomas Indian School and the “Irredeemable” Children of New York. According to him, residential schools such as the Thomas Indian School and Kamloops Indian Residential School used to assimilate Native American children, thus depriving them of the love and affection they would instead receive in a family.

Mr. Burich claimed that more than 2,700 children from the Seneca tribes were brought to the Thomas school during its 102 years of operations. He stated that this led to many self-destructive behavior cases among the youngsters, and some of the children even died at the school but according to him it is on a much lesser scale compared to what has happened in the Kamloops school.

President and CEO of Seneca Gaming Corporation Kevin Nephew said that the company will be paying tribute to the deceased children. There will be a moment of silence at 2:15 pm across the corporation’s casino properties in memory of the 215 indigenous children. He explained that the corporation was shaken by the news as the vast majority of the corporation consists of Seneca members.

Canada has an Orange Shirt day every year on September 30, on this day Canadians pay homage to children that were taken away to residential schools. Mr. Nephew added that all staff members of the company will be wearing orange shirts and ribbons. He stated that this is an opportunity to bring awareness of the terrible doings and educate people on the matter.

Special Appointment

Mr. Nephew was appointed as the Tribal Corporation’s president and CEO in October last year. His appointment was an iconic one, as for the first time in the history of the company it is led by a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians. His experience will considerably help the Native American corporation in its development and growth process in these difficult times.

Difficult Period

The tribal gaming company had to endure a difficult 2020, as the unprecedented situation has closed down all businesses including casinos in NYS in March 2020. A few months later on June 18, the corporation was allowed to reopen its Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, and welcome back patrons to its premises. At that time the casino was operating under a limited hours schedule, and very strict health and safety measures which were recently eased in.

Source: Melamed, Gilat “The local impact of residential schools, Seneca Gaming to honor children discovered in Canada”, WKBW, June 3, 2021

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