League of Canadian Poets’ statement of support and call to action regarding the 215 children found buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School

The League of Canadian poets stands in mourning alongside Indigenous communities as they grieve the lives of 215 children whose bodies were found buried at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. From the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, we know there are thousands more victims of Canada’s residential schools who have not yet been found, and whose families do not know the fate of their relatives even after these many years. Our hearts are with all the families and communities of the victims of Canada’s residential school system who are still experiencing the impact of that system today. 


The League of Canadian Poets supports the call to action for further exploration of the residential schools in Canada; we support the work of Indigenous leaders and communities in the Canadian legal system as they continue to fight for justice and reconciliation; we support the call to action to carry out the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.    


In times of great pain, we seek the arts for healing, expression, and truth, and we are humbled and honoured to share the poem “Angels” written by Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer in honour of the 215 victims of Kamloops Indian Residential School. Louise Bernice Halfe– Sky Dancer is a member of the League of Canadian Poets and the current Parliamentary Poet Laureate.   


As an organization, the League of Canadian Poets is committed to being a catalyst for change and empathy within the arts community. We will continue to center and amplify the voices of racialized and marginalized artists, including those who identify as Indigenous – First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. If you are a descendant of or identify as a colonizer or settler in Canada, we encourage you to learn, take action, and/or donate your time and resources to reconciliation and increased equity for Indigenous people. 


Please refer to the following resources and organizations for education and support: 

For more information on organizations that support Indigenous people and communities, see: 


Poem name: Angels: 215 >, 1820 – 1979 Poet name: Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer Poem: “The Past is Always Our Present” A cradle board hangs from a tree A beaded moss bag is folded in a small chest A child’s moccasin is tucked Into a skunk Pipe bag Children’s shoes in a ghost dance. A mother clutches these Palms held against her face A river runs between her fingers. A small boy covered in soot On all fours a naked toddler Plays in the water, while her Kokom’s skirt Is wet to her calves. “How tall are you now?” she asked. “I’m bigger than the blueberry shrub, Oh, as tall as an Aspen Where my birth was buried. See my belly-button?” Each have dragged a rabbit to the tent, a tipi Watched expert hands Skin, butcher, make berry soup for dinner. Boy falls a robin with a slingshot He is shown how to skewer the breast Roast the bird on hot coals. He will not kill Without purpose, again. The tipi, tent, the log-shack are empty Trees crane their heads through The tipi flaps, the tent door Through the cracks of the mud-shack. A mother’s long wail from 1890 Carried in the wind. A grandparent Pokes embers, a sprinkle of tobacco, Cedar, sweetgrass, fungus, sage Swirls upward. Children’s creeks Trickle in their sleep. A blanket of deep earth Covered fingers entwined Arms around each other. We have been Waiting. It is time to release This storm That consumes all this nation. Awasis, this spirit-light, these angels Dance in the flame. The bones Will share their stories. Listen. Act. These children are ours. Could be..............................Yours. End of poem. Credits: Copyright © Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer was raised on Saddle Lake Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School. She graduated with a Bachelor of social work from the University of Regina and completed two years of Nechi Training in St. Albert’s Nechi Institute. Ms. Halfe serves on various committees throughout Canada and provides services with Opik, an Elders circle that works with apprehended children and their families. In 2005, she served as Saskatchewan’s second Poet Laureate. She is widely recognized for weaving Cree language and teachings into her works. Her books, Bear Bones and Feathers (1994), Blue Marrow (2004), The Crooked Good (2007), and Burning In This Midnight Dream (2016) have all received numerous accolades and awards. Sôhkêyihta features selected poems and was published in 2018. Her latest work awâsis – kinky and dishevelled will be released in the spring of 2021. Ms. Halfe has received honorary degrees from Wilfred Laurier University, the University of Saskatchewan and Mount Royal University. She is married and has two adult children and three grandsons.