International Commission on Missing Persons to undertake outreach and engagement sessions with Indigenous communities on unmarked burial sites

News release

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February 17, 2023 — Ottawa, Ontario — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The locating of unmarked graves and burial sites at former residential schools across Canada is a tragic reminder of the abuse that many Indigenous children suffered in these institutions. In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 72 to 76, the Government of Canada is committed to supporting Indigenous communities as they continue the difficult and critical work of uncovering the truth and commemorating the children who never returned home, in the way these communities see fit.

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown−Indigenous Relations; and Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), are announcing the signing of a Technical Arrangement between the Government of Canada and the ICMP. 

Under the Technical Arrangement, Crown−Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is providing approximately $2 million to the ICMP, who will conduct a cross-country outreach and engagement campaign with Indigenous communities that wish to explore options for the identification and repatriation of human remains from unmarked burial sites associated with former residential schools. 

To ensure discussions and information sessions are inclusive, respectful of Indigenous protocols, culturally sensitive, and offer adequate health support, local Indigenous facilitators will lead every step of the process. The ICMP will provide expert information on DNA analysis and other forensic approaches for consideration, but communities are not required to employ the ICMP’s services. Interested Indigenous communities will share their experiences, thoughts and views to shape the work ahead.

The ICMP’s work will conclude with a final report to Canada that examines future strategies for repatriation and respects the local knowledge and information provided by Indigenous communities.

This work will be independent from the Government of Canada and complimentary to the efforts already underway by Indigenous leaders, communities, Survivors, families, experts and other independent organizations, and the Special Interlocuter.


“Indigenous communities across Canada are leading the difficult and important work of uncovering the truth at the sites of former residential schools, and our government will continue to support them in that process, whether they choose to use the services of the ICMP or not. We thank the ICMP and the local Indigenous facilitators who will ensure appropriate health supports are available and that the engagement sessions are inclusive, culturally sensitive and respectful of Indigenous protocols.” 

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations 

“The families of the missing are central to addressing the issue of missing children and unmarked burials. Their needs, knowledge and views must lead the way. We look forward to working with all Indigenous communities across Canada to learn and to explore options for a strategy to address the diversity of perspectives surrounding possible identification and repatriation processes.”

Kathryne Bomberger
Director-General, International Commission on Missing Persons

Quick facts

  • The Technical Arrangement is subject to amendments, which parties may introduce from time to time. The Statement of Work, included in the annex to the Technical Arrangement, is also subject to revision and updates will be jointly considered and agreed upon between CIRNAC and the ICMP, as needed.

  • The International Commission on Missing Persons is an independent, treaty-based international organization based in The Hague and tasked with addressing the issue of people who have gone missing as a result of human rights abuses and other causes.

  • The ICMP operates a world-class forensic program to locate and identify missing persons, including DNA testing and analysis facilities, and is a leader in training and education programming around this issue.

  • The ICMP works with governments, civil society organizations, international organizations, and other parties to locate missing persons as a result of human rights abuses, disasters, armed conflict, irregular migration and other causes.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Aissatou Diop
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations 

CIRNAC Media Relations:
Phone: 819-934-2302

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