LETHBRIDGE, AB – “Kamloops is reminding us to talk about that truth.” That from the U of L’s Dr. Leroy Little Bear as he addressed Lethbridge City Council Tuesday afternoon.

The local Blackfoot historian and University of Lethbridge Professor was invited by Council to speak about the history of residential schools and Indigenous people in this area.

The issue of Canada’s residential school system has been front and centre over the past week after it came to light that the bodies of 215 children were discovered in a mass grave at a former residential school site in Kamloops, BC.

Little Bear told Council that during the TRC it was about Truth and Reconciliation. “Everybody jumped on the reconciliation wagon,” said Little Bear. “Nobody wanted to talk about the truth. Well, Kamloops is reminding us to talk about the truth.”

He thanked the City of Lethbridge for its efforts on reconciliation over the last few years and specifically referenced the adoption of the word “Oki” as the official greeting of the City. Oki means hello in Blackfoot and Little Bear says that was a huge move and shows a big change in relationship between the City and the Blackfoot people.

He’s asking everyone to stop and see how we can do things differently so what happened in Kamloops never happens again.

In honour of the 215 children who’s remains were found in Kamloops, Lethbridge City Council held 215 seconds of silence during Tuesday’s meeting. Flags at City Hall remain at half-mast and City Hall will also be lit up in orange all this week.

Mayor Chris Spearman says the City of Lethbridge has done a lot of work over the last four years on Truth and Reconciliation, but acknowledged more needs to be done.

“The community has to come along,” Spearman told Council. “We need to be leaders showing the way. We will continue to do what we can to repair the relationships that have suffered for so long and to make a difference in our city and everywhere in Blackfoot territory.”