The Canadian Government is taking further steps towards reconciliation. The federal government announced Tuesday that it is taking action in order to ensure enhanced support for Indigenous communities across Canada. This is widely considered to be a direct response to the intergenerational trauma of the residential school system that was in place from 1828 to 1996. That trauma has been brought back into the public eye with the recent discovery of over 5000 unmarked graves at the locations of former residential schools.
Members of the federal government, including the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, have announced a commitment to $321 million in initiatives to help Indigenous communities heal and respond to the intergenerational trauma of the residential school system.
On the subject, Bennet said that “Our thoughts remain with those Indigenous children who never returned home, the survivors, families, and communities as they mourn and heal. We are engaged and focused on collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners. We will be there to support their difficult and important work to locate, memorialize and commemorate the lost children.”
Of the $321 million that the government is putting up, $83 million will go towards supplementing ongoing investments for proper burials and memorials for the children that died in residential schools. In addition, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada are consulting with National Indigenous Organizations in order to establish a National Advisory Committee. This committee will include Indigenous knowledge holders, as well as experts in fields such as archeology, forensics, and mental health among others. The intention is for this committee to better serve Indigenous communities through the input of Indigenous community members.
Furthermore, an additional $20 million will be set aside in order to build a national monument recognizing the survivors of the residential school system, along with all of the children who were taken by the government at the time. While no date has been given for when the monument will be completed, it will be built in Ottawa.
A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support for former residential school students. To speak to someone, call 1-866-925-4419.