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Looking forward with optimism

T'kémlúps continues its path to self-sustainability
Tk'emlúps Chief Rosanne Casimir 2021
Tk'emlúps Chief Rosanne Casimir.

I just want to extend my appreciation to Kamloops This Week for producing the Progress Reports as it provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress that Tḱemlúps te Secwepemc (TteS) has made in the last year. 2021 was again a challenging year for all of us with the ongoing pandemic, fires, and floods.

For TteS in particular, it was a devastating year with the discovery of the 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. It was a discovery that left us, our relations, and the world reeling as our truths were finally validated. Since our discovery, there have been other findings at former residential schools across the country, with likely more to come.

We must believe now that Le Estcwicwéy̓ (the missing children) have spoken, that real healing can begin. The children have provided us a way to connect our First Nations history to the larger population that was not possible before. As Canadians, we stood side by side in shock, pain and horror, as human beings first, regardless of race. Through this gruesome discovery, truth telling has begun. Through Le Estcwicwéy̓, we used innovative technology to confirm the findings, which lead us to connect in grief, resulting in growth and understanding of the importance of reconciliation and healing for our people.

For a more traditional interpretation of the theme connect, innovate, and grow, TteS, also has many achievements to celebrate this year. We are building a grocery store to service our members as well as our neighbours. TteS is also moving forward on the Stswékstem (Strawberry Hill) Engineered Waste Management Facility. We are excited that after 23 years of no on reserve member social housing, we have ten new units for our Elders at Tyee Park. TteS is proud to be working with TELUS to connect the remaining part of the main reserve to highspeed internet. This is a huge win for TteS as access to internet is becoming a basic human right in today’s society, for communication (especially during emergencies), education and work.

This past year the Federal Court has approved a settlement agreement that resolves the Day Scholar and Descendant claims, another step towards reconciliation. We continue to move forward to create a safer community for our members, resolve some outstanding infrastructure challenges and advocate politically on several fronts.

We have been creative in continuing to engage with our membership and look forward to doing more in person meetings where we can come together and reconnect in a way that we haven’t been able to, due to the pandemic.   We are so proud of our Elders who were able to learn how to use technology to join meetings and stay connected to their families. It is our way, to gather as a community and the loss of connection has been heavily felt. This pandemic has forced all of us to practice our resilience which will be so much needed as our world continues to change and be impacted by climate change.

We look to the future with great optimism. As a Chief, I have committed to building a strong and supportive Council that develops respectful and professional relationships with all internal and external parties. We will continue to strive towards self sustainability while advancing our self determination and continue our healing journey.

I will end this will my personal motto that I live by daily:

“Know your passion, visualize your plan, collect your resources, and be determined to succeed!”