Canada and Province of British Columbia support Stó:lō Nation research and commemoration activities around former residential school sites

News release

February 4, 2022 — Stó:lō Nation, British Columbia — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The locating of unmarked burials at former residential school sites across Canada is a tragic reminder of the abuse that many Indigenous children suffered in these institutions. The Government of Canada is working with Survivors, Indigenous leaders and affected families and communities as part of efforts to address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the legacy of residential schools. Part of this work includes locating and commemorating missing children who attended residential schools, as well as responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 72 to 76.

Stó:lō Nation has developed a multi-year plan for this work, which they are calling Xyólhmet ye Syéwiqwélh (Taking Care of Our Children). The work entails advancing research and commemoration activities at three former residential schools that operated in their territory—Coqualeetza (Sardis), St. Mary’s (Mission) and All Hallows (Yale).

Today, David Jimmie, Chief of Squiala First Nation and President of the Stó:lō Nation Chiefs’ Council; the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations; and Murray Rankin, B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, announced funding totalling $2,027,520 for this important work. The Stó:lō Nation, in collaboration with communities throughout Stó:lō territory, will create a “Lost Stó:lō Children” register, host community engagement sessions, and host important cultural and ceremonial protocols to honour the children who attended these residential schools.

The Stó:lō Nation established a political Steering Committee with representatives from the Stó:lō Nation Chiefs’ Council, Stó:lō Tribal Council and Independent First Nations to oversee this sensitive work. The Stó:lō House of Respect Care Taking Committee, who guide repatriation efforts, provide cultural advice for these efforts. The initiative is being operationalized through the Stó:lō Service Agency Board of Directors and carried out under the direction of the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre.

Funding provided by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia will support the Stó:lō Nation’s plans to research, commemorate and conduct fieldwork related to any unmarked burials connected to these residential school sites.

This community-led process will ensure that Stó:lō Nation can undertake this work in their own way and at their own pace.

Addressing the harms suffered by Survivors, their families and communities is at the heart of reconciliation and is essential to renewing and building relationships with Indigenous Peoples, governments and all Canadians.

Quotes

“Our Survivors, community members and leadership are experiencing heavy hearts throughout the territory, the province and across the country. The important work we are engaged in needs to be done respectfully from both a cultural and technical perspective. Survivors are working through an ongoing healing process and we are here to support them in any way we can in our respective positions of leadership. Developing a plan with their input and guidance is essential for us to carry out this work and allow for the healing journey to continue. We are grateful for the Province and Federal governments commitment to support our work on behalf of the families. It is important that we are mindful to acknowledge the time and space required to process all of the information collected and we will work with each of the Survivors and families to ensure they feel supported before moving on to next steps. All our work will continue to be guided by cultural protocol and oversight.”

David Jimmie
Chief of Squiala First Nation and
President of the Stó:lō Nation Chiefs’ Council

“Our thoughts are with the Survivors, their families and community members of Stó:lō Nation as they begin this crucial work of locating and commemorating all the children who never returned home. We recognize the painful legacy of residential schools and remain committed to supporting Stó:lō Nation in their “Taking Care of Our Children” project as they work toward uncovering the truth, healing and closure.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations 

“I commend the leadership and courage of the Stó:lō Nation for undertaking this difficult but critically important work on behalf of their member communities and Survivors who attended these institutions. Building on years of research, the Stó:lō Nation is taking the next step in their journey to uncover the full truth and legacy of the residential school system. B.C. is working closely with our federal government and Indigenous partners to support the efforts of the Stó:lō Nation on their path to truth, justice and healing.”

Murray Rankin
B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

Quick facts

  • S’ólh Téméxw is the traditional territory of the Stó:lō people in the Lower Fraser River Watershed from above Yale to the Salish Sea. The 11 member First Nations are located throughout the central Fraser Valley. 

  • The Stó:lō Nation organization is housed on the Coqualeetza Grounds in Chilliwack.  

  • On August 10, 2021, the Government 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. 

  • To date, $116.8 million has been committed to support First Nation, Inuit and Métis Survivors, their families and communities toward locating and commemorating missing children who attended residential schools, responding to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76.

  • The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. 

  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line for all Indigenous Peoples is also available at 1‑855-242-3310 or via the online chat function through their website.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Renelle Arsenault
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
renelle.arsenault@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

Media Relations
Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
819-934-2302
RCAANC.media.CIRNAC@sac-isc.gc.ca

Chris Harbord
Communications Director
Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
British Columbia
250-952-7302
Chris.Harbord@gov.bc.ca

Dave Schaepe
Communications
Stó:lō Nation  
604-858-3366
Dave.Schaepe@stolonation.bc.ca

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