Statement on the anniversary of locating unmarked graves at Kamloops residential school
Ottawa, Ontario (May 27, 2022) — The Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Marc Miller; the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Patty Hajdu; and the Minister of Northern Affairs, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, issued the following statement today:
“One year ago today, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation shared with the world the tragic finding of unmarked burials around the former Kamloops Residential School. The news remains as overwhelming today as when it was first shared.
Over the past year, we have also witnessed many other communities share their own findings at former residential school sites across Canada: Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, Cowessess First Nation, ʔaq̓am First Nation, Penelakut Tribe, Williams Lake First Nation, Keeseekoose First Nation, Kapawe’no First Nation, George Gordon First Nation, Saddle Lake Cree Nation, and so many more to follow. Each has prompted Canadians to reflect on Canada’s colonialism and abuse; in particular, forcibly removing children from their communities to attend residential schools.
The locating of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across Canada is a reminder of the abuse that residential school policies inflicted on Indigenous children, their families and their communities. The Government of Canada continues to work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities who are undertaking the difficult and important work of searching for and commemorating the children who never came home. While it is important for us to address past wrongs and educate ourselves, we also have to address the ongoing impacts of residential schools and the intergenerational trauma that still affects Indigenous Peoples and their communities.
The Government of Canada acknowledges its role in the past and its impact on the present, and we are committed to making tangible differences across the country. We are listening to First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders, and we know these approaches must be Indigenous-led, Survivor-centric and culturally sensitive. We will continue to listen to Indigenous Peoples as they tell their stories and support them on their journey of healing—at their own pace, the best way they see fit. As a country, we will do better.
Our thoughts are with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and all Indigenous Peoples who have been, and continue to be, impacted by these tragedies, and with the children who attended residential schools and did not return home. We hope you take time for yourself and your loved ones as you mourn those children. Should you need it, the National Residential School Crisis Line remains available to residential school Survivors and their families to provide emotional and crisis referral services by phone at 1-866-925-4419.”
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
Office of the Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs
Indigenous Services Canada
CIRNAC Media Relations:
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