“Government of Canada Invests in Finding Missing Children at Former Residential School Site in Alberni”
The news of locating unmarked burials at former residential school sites across Canada is disturbing, but it serves as a crucial reminder of the abuse suffered by many Indigenous children in these institutions. The Canadian government is actively working with Survivors, Indigenous leaders, and affected families and communities to right historical wrongs and address the long-lasting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual harms that resulted from residential schools. The Government is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 72 to 76, and the initiative is a vital step in recognizing and commemorating missing children who attended residential schools.
Supporting c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) First Nation’s efforts, the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Chief Wahmeesh (Ken Watts) announced a $2.7 million funding expansion to help the tribe locate burial sites associated with the former Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS), which brings the total federal investment to over $3.2 million. The c̓išaaʔatḥ First Nation’s initiative, ʔuuʔatumin yaqckʷiimitqin (Doing it for our Ancestors), encompasses respect for their Elders, embracing their cultural heritage, research, and knowledge gathering to construct a memorial and continue field work investigations using geophysical search technologies. This community-led process ensures they can undertake this work at their own pace in their way to address the location, documentation, and commemoration of burial sites associated with the Alberni Indian Residential School.
This tragic legacy of the residential school system has left deep trauma in the hearts and minds of the Survivors, their families, and communities. Healing is essential for the process of reconciliation and for establishing renewed and positive relationships among Indigenous Peoples, governments, and all individuals in Canada.
In the honorable words of Chief Wahmeesh (Ken Watts), “Sharing truth is part of reconciliation, and we appreciate Canada’s meaningful contribution to this sacred yet painful work. Our nation will pursue the difficult, yet significant, task not only for more information’s sake but to offer strength and support to others. We recognize and value Canada’s continuous contribution to this meaningful work.”
Thus, the funding provided by the Government of Canada to support these efforts demonstrates a significant commitment to helping communities undertake this solemn work to find the children who did not return from residential schools and to continue to address the legacy of the residential school system. We pay our gratitude to the tireless efforts of Tseshaht First Nation and other communities in doing this critically important work.”