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HomeNewsOntario Supporting The Identification And Commemoration Of Residential School Burial Sites

Ontario Supporting The Identification And Commemoration Of Residential School Burial Sites

KAWARTHA LAKES-The Ontario government says it is providing $10 million to help support the identification, investigation, protection and commemoration of Residential School burial sites across the province.

“Like all Ontarians, I was heartbroken by the news of a burial site containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the former Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia,” said Premier Doug Ford. “That is why our government is partnering with Indigenous communities to address the loss of generations who are no longer with us, and the continued loss experienced by residential school survivors and their families. As we advance meaningful reconciliation, it is important that all of us continue to deepen our collective understanding of the legacy of the Indian Residential School system.”

“The news of the 215 children found in Kamloops has affected our people in deeply emotional, spiritual, and physical ways. Our survivors and their families in Treaty #3 have long known that not everyone came home from residential school. The reminder that many have yet to be found has impacted our Nation in ways I cannot express. Over the past several weeks, many people have told me of their experiences of seeing children disappear and have asked that we begin searching for them. Today’s announcement is a step towards bringing our children home.” said Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh
Grand Council Treaty #3

Across Canada, over 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities and sent to Indian Residential Schools between 1870 and 1996. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, there were 18 Indian Residential Schools in Ontario; the last of these closed in 1991, with some sites since repurposed, abandoned or destroyed.

“We know that the tragic findings at a former Indian Residential School site in British Columbia are sadly not an anomaly,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Indigenous leaders and Ontarians are looking to governments to commit to the work of investigating Indigenous Residential School burial sites on a priority basis and our government is taking action to support this process through to completion.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) estimated that at least 426 children who attended Indian Residential Schools in Ontario are known to have died, while an unknown number are still missing.

The TRC research identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario; there are likely more.

“Our children were taken from us by government diktat in an effort to eliminate our language, culture, values, and identity, and some of them were never seen again. No parent or child should ever have to experience that, and we must ensure it never happens again. With the Government of Ontario committing to a full investigation of burial sites, Six Nations is encouraged in the hope that we will find all of our missing children and bring to light what happened to them. This is a step towards justice.” stated Chief Mark B. Hill
Six Nations of the Grand River

Ontario is working in collaboration with Indigenous leaders to establish processes that will guide the work related to Indian Residential School site identification, investigation, protection and commemoration. Initial site identification will be the first step in a much more extensive process, pending the wishes of the affected families and communities according to officials.

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