In response to the discovery of children’s remains on the grounds of former Kamloops Residential School, the provincial government in Alberta announced it will be funding research with the intention of locating unmarked burial sites at former residential schools within its own province.
“Finding their graves is a matter of reconciliation and another step toward closure for families,” said Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations in a statement.
“Many of the schools have been destroyed and while their general location is known, the exact coordinates are missing. It is also possible that children were buried in locations such as nearby churches.”
Of the 134 residential schools operating in Canada between 1893 and 1996, at least 25 operated in Alberta.
Wilson said action 74 of the 94 Truth and Reconciliation actions calls for the federal government to work with churches and indigenous leaders to let families know where their children or relatives are buried and to respond to their wishes regarding commemoration of family members.
“Nobody knew where they went,” Wilson recalled of his childhood friends who stopped showing up at school near Pigeon Lake, where he grew up.
“They were taken somewhere else.”
According to Reconciliation Canada, 90 to 100 per cent of residential school attendees were physically, sexually, and emotionally abused. The schools also reportedly had a 40 to 60 per cent mortality rate.
Wilson did not indicate how much will be spent or a how it will be dolled out, but he did say “details of that funding will be announced in the coming days.”
Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
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