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Feds pledge $83M for residential school searches, $20M for monument honouring children

Funding comes after multiple First Nations have located unmarked burial grounds
People march after gathering on the lawn in front of the Department of Justice in Ottawa, during a rally to demand an independent investigation into Canada’s crimes against Indigenous Peoples, including those at Indian Residential Schools, on Saturday, July 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ottawa on Tuesday (Aug. 10) announced $321 million in funding for Indigenous-led initiatives to help communities heal from the intergenerational trauma of residential schools.

Of that money, $83 million will go towards searches at the sites of former residential schools, where hundreds of mass grave have been found in B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The ministries of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada will also establish a National Advisory Committee to liaise with communities and the feds on the work to locate further unmarked burial sites. There are suspected to be thousands of more unmarked graves at the 139 residential school sites across Canada. The last residential school in Canada did not close its doors until 1996 and over more than 100 years, 150,000 children were sent to the facilities.

That committee will collaborate with a special interlocutor who will “work with Indigenous Peoples, provincial and territorial governments, and communities to identify needed measures and make recommendations relating to federal laws, regulations, policies and practices surrounding unmarked and undocumented graves and burial sites at residential schools.”

READ MORE: Group finishes six-week walk to Kamloops to honour children, survivors of residential schools

Another $100.1 million will go towards Indigenous communities’ plans for residential schools themselves, whether that is demolition, rehabilitation or the building of new facilities that better serve the community.

“Residential school buildings hold painful memories, and many communities are currently discussing what they would like to do with these structures going forward,” the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada ministries said in a statement. “Canada will continue to support community plans to manage these buildings.”

Ottawa will prove $9.6 million to commemorate the history and ongoing legacy of residential schools and another $20 million to build a nation monument in Ottawa in honour of the children taken from their families.

The federal government will also fund $107.3 million worth of mental health and trauma supports for Indigenous Peoples impacted by the recent discoveries.

“As evidenced by the many commemorative displays of shoes, stuffed animals and other artifacts including signs, pictures and messages, that have been set up across Canada in honour of children who attended residential schools, including on Parliament Hill, Canadians are learning about the impacts of residential schools and of the many children who never returned home,” the ministries stated. “These are truths First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities have lived with for many generations and were documented in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and Calls to Action. Addressing the legacy of residential schools will take time, and Canada will undertake this work in partnership with Indigenous people and communities.”

READ MORE: B.C. to mark Sept. 30 as day of commemoration for residential school victims, survivors


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