Government of Canada enhances support to Indigenous communities to respond to and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools

News release

August, 10, 2021 — Ottawa, traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg Nation, Ontario — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The Government of Canada is taking further action to enhance support for Indigenous Peoples and communities as they continue to respond to and heal from the intergenerational trauma of residential schools. Canada is listening and will continue to listen to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Survivors and their families. In order to create a historical record of children who did not return home from residential schools, Canada continues to support communities as they locate burial sites and commemorate and memorialize the innocent lost lives.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced approximately $320 million in additional support for Indigenous-led, Survivor-centric and culturally informed initiatives and investments to help Indigenous communities respond to and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools. 

Of this funding, $83 million will supplement existing investments for community-led processes to research and locate burial sites as well as to commemorate and memorialize the children who died at residential schools. These resources are in addition to the $27.1 million which is part of the $33.8 million committed in Budget 2019 to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76, bringing the Government of Canada's commitment to $116.8 million to support this important work.

Additionally, work is underway by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to establish a National Advisory Committee to advise communities and the Government of Canada on the work to locate burial sites. In consultation with National Indigenous Organizations, the Committee will consist of Indigenous knowledge holders and experts in areas such as archaeology, forensics, pathology and mental health.

Residential school buildings hold painful memories, and many communities are currently discussing what they would like to do with these structures going forward. Canada will continue to support community plans to manage these buildings—whether those plans include demolition, rehabilitation or the construction of new facilities on reserve so that activities currently taking place in these buildings can continue. Canada will provide $100.1 million over two years to support this work. To access this support, as well as support for the location, commemoration and memorialization of remains, communities can apply through the Residential Schools Missing Children - Community Support Funding Program.

The Government of Canada remains committed to ensuring that the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools is never forgotten. To support these efforts, $9.6 million over three years is being provided in addition to the $13.4 million over five years already announced in Budget 2021. The funds will support initiatives that commemorate the history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, including events and activities marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which will be observed for the first time this year on September 30th. Furthermore, $20 million in new funding will be set aside to build a national monument in Ottawa to honour Survivors and all the children who were taken from their families and communities. 

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada is announcing the Government's intention to select a Special Interlocutor who will work with Indigenous Peoples, provincial and territorial governments, and communities to identify needed measures and make recommendations relating to federal laws, regulations, policies and practices surrounding unmarked and undocumented graves and burial sites at residential schools. The Special Interlocutor and the National Advisory Committee will collaborate and draw from each other's expertise, and ensure that provinces and territories, as well as other relevant institutions such as churches are engaged.

Residential schools have created enduring trauma and intergenerational harm. For many, recent confirmation of burial sites has brought up painful memories, and impacted their mental health. To ensure that Survivors have emotional and cultural support during this time, Canada made a three-year investment through Budget 2021 to renew essential mental health, culture and emotional supports for residential school Survivors and their families as well as those impacted by Federal Day Schools. Canada is also investing a further $107.3 million in 2021-2022 to support the expansion of these services to ensure that those impacted by intergenerational traumas will have access to these supports. Investments through Budget 2021 are also supporting the continuation of the Indian Residential School Crisis Line for Survivors and their families. 

As evidenced by the many commemorative displays of shoes, stuffed animals and other artifacts including signs, pictures and messages, that have been set up across Canada in honour of children who attended residential schools, including on Parliament Hill, Canadians are learning about the impacts of residential schools and of the many children who never returned home. These are truths First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities have lived with for many generations and were documented in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report and Calls to Action. Addressing the legacy of residential schools will take time, and Canada will undertake this work in partnership with Indigenous people and communities. 


"Our thoughts remain with those Indigenous children who never returned home, the Survivors, families, and communities as they mourn and heal. We are engaged and focused on collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners. We will be there to support their difficult and important work to locate, memorialize and commemorate the lost children." 

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations 

"We know that Indigenous communities, families and friends are hurting. There isn't a single community that is not grieving today. We also know that communities across the country need supports and we are committed to working with Indigenous leaders to do so, in partnership with them. For months and years, we have heard atrocious anecdotes that only remind us that calling those ‛schools' can only be a euphemism. Now is the time to start fulfilling our duty to help first Nations, Inuit and Métis recover the truth. Today's announcement is the first step in that direction."

The Honourable Marc Miller, P.C., M.P. 
Minister of Indigenous Services 

"The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and a National Monument will honour survivors and all the children lost to their families and communities, raise awareness of the history and legacy of residential schools among all Canadians and for future generations, and provide an opportunity for Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians to come together in support of healing and reconciliation."

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, P.C., M.P. 
Minister of Canadian Heritage

"We will continue to work with Indigenous Survivors, families, communities and leaders, to ensure that there is justice for all the children who never made it home. We need to act now to ensure the human rights of Indigenous Peoples are respected."

The Honourable David T. Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P. 
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

"The legacy of the residential school system is a painful reminder to us all as Canadians, of past wrongs and we must come together on the shared path toward reconciliation. It begins with educating ourselves about the impacts that these institutions had on thousands of the most vulnerable members of our society, innocent children, and the intergenerational trauma that continues to impact individuals and families. Today we are taking an important step forward in partnership with Indigenous Peoples."

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs

Quick facts

  • A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support for former Residential School students. Emotional and crisis referral services are available by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

  • The Hope for Wellness Line is also available to all Indigenous Peoples and provides immediate, toll-free telephone and on-line support and crisis intervention 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is available in English, French and, upon request, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut. Trained counsellors are available by phone at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat at Hope for wellness helpline.

  • A National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be observed for the first time this September 30, 2021. The new national day will honour Survivors, their families and communities. It will also ensure that public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

  • To help communities commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools, the Government of Canada is also providing support national and community-level projects to educate and raise awareness about this dark chapter in Canadian history. 

  • To access support for the demolition or rehabilitation of residential school buildings, or the construction of new facilities on reserve so that activities currently taking place in these buildings can continue, communities should contact

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For more information and to receive a copy of this news release in an Indigenous language please contact media relations:

Ani Dergalstanian
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Adrienne Vaupshas
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux 
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Camille Gagné-Raynauld
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
(613) 992-6568

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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