No Accounts On ‘Truth’ Fund

The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations yesterday confirmed it spent millions to uncover the “heartbreaking truth” of unmarked Indian Residential School graves in Kamloops, B.C. No remains have been recovered to […]

The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations yesterday confirmed it spent millions to uncover the “heartbreaking truth” of unmarked Indian Residential School graves in Kamloops, B.C. No remains have been recovered to date and no accounting of what became of the $7.9 million has been disclosed.

“The community had received $7.9 million for field work, records searches and to secure the Residential School grounds,” said Carolane Gratton, spokesperson for the department. “Details of initiatives taken by Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation are best directed to the community.”

The department has not released financial accounts under the Access To Information Act. The First Nation said in a statement it “continues to grieve children that are in our care and are focused on the scientific work that needs to be done” but would not discuss the $7.9 million.

The 2021 funding was to document the “heartbreaking truth,” according to a 2022 department briefing note. “Our thoughts are with survivors, their families and communities as the heartbreaking truth about Residential Schools’ unmarked burials continues to be unveiled,” said the note.

“Funding is available to support communities, survivors and their families on their healing journey through researching, locating and memorializing those children who died while attending Indian Residential Schools,” said the note Indian Residential School Sites: Unmarked Burials.

“If pressed on Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Kamloops Indian Residential School site, the Government of Canada has provided $7.9 million over two years to the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation to support the community in conducting this important work,” said the note.

The First Nation prompted an international outcry in 2021 when it announced the discovery of 215 children’s graves hidden at the Kamloops Residential School. It said remains were found using ground penetrating radar.

Cabinet at the time lowered the Peace Tower flag at half mast for 161 days, approved $3.1 million for a national Residential Schools Student Death Register and another $238.8 million for a Residential Schools Missing Children Community Support Fund. The Fund expires in 2025.

“I think Canadians have seen with horror those unmarked graves across the country and realize that what happened decades ago isn’t part of our history, it is an irrefutable part of our present,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier told reporters.

No remains have been recovered at the Kamloops site to date. A Senate committee in a 2023 report described questions regarding documentation of the 215 graves as “Residential School denialism.”

“Denialism serves to distract people from the horrific consequences of Residential Schools and the realities of missing children, burials and unmarked graves,” said the Senate Indigenous peoples committee report Honouring The Children Who Never Came Home. It recommended “the Government of Canada take every action necessary to combat the rise of Residential School denialism.”

 

Published with kind permission from Blacklock’s Reporter. First published here.

 

Blacklock’s Reporter (founded October 2012) is an Ottawa-based Internet publication covering Canadian government administration.

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