Time for mourning & call to action

UBCM president urges implementation of Truth and Reconciliation calls to action and full disclosure of government and church records that relate to the death of children while in the care of residential schools

Following a report by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc identifying the location of a mass burial site containing the remains of 215 children on the property of a former residential school, UBCM president Brian Frenkel is urging colleagues to take time to mourn the lost children and reflect upon the testimony of residential school survivors. Frenkel is also calling on the federal government to ensure the implementation of Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action that relate to missing children and burial information; and for the full disclosure of related records by the federal Government and churches involved in the administration of residential schools.

While it is unknown how many children died while attending residential schools in Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada identified 3,200 deaths on its registers of named and unnamed residential school students.

Volume 4 of the Commission’s Final Report notes that:

“These findings are in keeping with statements that former students and the parents of former students gave to the Commission. They spoke of children who went to school and never returned. The tragedy of the loss of children was compounded by the fact that burial places were distant or even unknown. Many Aboriginal people have unanswered questions about what happened to their children or relatives while they were attending residential school. The work that the Commission has begun in identifying and commemorating those students who died at school and their gravesites needs to be finished.”

The TRC Calls to Action #71-76 address missing children and burial information, calling on the Federal Government to work with churches, Aboriginal communities and former residential school students to support the identification of sites and to respond to families wishes for appropriate commemoration and reburial. In 2015, UBCM membership endorsed resolution B106, calling on the Governments of Canada and British Columbia to review and move forward on the TRC recommendations. UBCM once again calls on the Federal Government to fully implement the TRC recommendations, including additional supports to address TRC Calls to Action 71-76.  

“I am immensely saddened by the loss of these children, and would like to express my deepest sympathy to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and Indigenous peoples across the province affected by this tragedy,” said Frenkel. “UBCM fully supports a renewed focus on the identification of all burial sites as highlighted in the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. We are also calling for the federal government and churches involved in residential schools to disclose records related to the children that died in their care.” 

UBCM encourages its members to continue to seek opportunities to engage with neighbouring First Nations and Indigenous peoples in working towards reconciliation, and to build awareness in their communities of Indigenous history and culture. UBCM will reach out to its Indigenous partners to further discuss how it may best support them in light of the confirmation of this burial site.

Meta Navigation