Calls to Action 71 to 76: Missing Children and Burial Information

Today, the editors of Active History have decided to paint the site orange to honour the thousands upon thousands of Indigenous children brutalized and killed in the Indian Residential School system—including those whose small bodies were recently located in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, the former Marieval Indian Residential School, the former St. Eugene’s Mission School, and other institutions in Brandon, Regina, and Lestock—and to pledge our solidarity with Indigenous peoples fighting for justice and an end to colonialism.

This morning, we have chosen to re-publish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s section on Missing Children and Burial Information. What follows are, verbatim, the TRC’s Calls to Action 71 to 76. We encourage readers to refer to the Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials, The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume 4 to learn, listen, and act. This afternoon, we will publish a statement on genocide and the history of violence against Indigenous peoples from the Canadian Historical Association.

MISSING CHILDREN AND BURIAL INFORMATION

71. We call upon all chief coroners and provincial vital statistics agencies that have not provided to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada their records on the deaths of Aboriginal children in the care of residential school authorities to make these documents available to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

72. We call upon the federal government to allocate sufficient resources to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to allow it to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

73. We call upon the federal government to work with churches, Aboriginal communities, and former residential school students to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including, where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children.

74. We call upon the federal government to work with the churches and Aboriginal community leaders to inform the families of children who died at residential schools of the child’s burial location, and to respond to families’ wishes for appropriate commemoration ceremonies and markers, and reburial in home communities where requested.

75. We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.

76. We call upon the parties engaged in the work of documenting, maintaining, commemorating, and protecting residential school cemeteries to adopt strategies in accordance with the following principles:

i. The Aboriginal community most affected shall lead the development of such strategies

ii. Information shall be sought from residential school Survivors and other Knowledge Keepers in the development of such strategies.

iii. Aboriginal protocols shall be respected before any potentially invasive technical inspection and investigation of a cemetery site.

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is available for those experiencing pain or distress. If you require emotional support or assistance, call toll-free 1 (800) 721-0066, or the twenty-four hour Crisis Line at 1 (866) 925-4419.

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