Statement from Moose Cree First Nation
June 1, 2021
On May 28, 2021, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia announced the heartbreaking discovery of the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The Chief & Council and the Membership of Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) extends its deepest condolences to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and all our brothers and sisters of the First Nations in British Columbia.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for the establishment of an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released 94 Calls to Action six years ago after a lengthy investigation into the history of residential schools in Canada. Six of those 94 Calls to Action involved children and burial grounds. The TRC called on the federal government to work with churches, Indigenous communities and residential school survivors to “establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including, where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children”. MCFN calls on the federal government to act on this recommendation and to work with Indigenous communities across Canada to bring a measure of closure for survivors of residential schools and their families.
Far too often the federal and provincial governments oppose First Nations efforts to obtain justice. A glaring example in our region involves the failure of the federal government to provide all relevant documentation pertaining to physical and sexual abuse allegations made by former students of the St. Anne’s Residential School in Fort Albany First Nation. In 2013, former students launched a court action to force the federal government to release all relevant documentation. This documentation was necessary to fairly adjudicate abuse claims as part of the Independent Assessment Process which was agreed to in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. For several years the federal government has opposed the release of the documents in court at a cost of $3.2 million in legal fees.
The federal government claims to be committed to reconciliation with Indigenous people but their actions do not match their words. Canada must move beyond nice words and symbolic gestures such as lowered flags on government buildings and move toward real action and the necessary investments that will result in lasting change in this country.
The federal government claims to be committed to reconciliation with Indigenous people but their actions do not match their words. The MCFN fully supports all former students of St. Anne’s in their efforts to obtain this documentation and in achieving just compensation.
The MCFN also supports action to address the outstanding claims of former students of Indian Day Schools. This is an ongoing process that the First Nation will continue to monitor as it moves forward.
Following release of the information that the mass grave has been located on the site of the former Kamloops Residential School, Prime Minister Trudeau has stated that the federal government will provide concrete support for survivors, their families and Indigenous communities. The words we have heard since the mass grave was discovered are the right words, but we have heard this before. Over the years many comprehensive reports and studies have been completed that have clearly shown the historical injustices committed against First Nations people in Canada. These reports have included multiple recommendations to work with Indigenous people to develop and implement the necessary solutions. These reports, such as the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the TRC Final Report are put on the shelf and largely forgotten.
The federal and provincial governments in Canada must move beyond nice words and symbolic gestures such as lowered flags on government buildings and move toward real action and the necessary investments that will result in lasting change in this country.
Chief Mervin Cheechoo and the Council would like to acknowledge and thank those community members who initiated community memorials and commemorations over the past weekend.
Chief & Council will be meeting on June 2, 2021 to further develop MCFN’s response and updates will be provided to Membership in the days and weeks ahead.
Support for those locally
Locally here in our community, we know the horrifying news from Kamloops has triggered many survivors and others among our Membership. You are not alone, we encourage you to reach out to our team of counsellors at the Health & Wellness department by contacting Wendell Hardisty, Intake Worker at 705-288-0187 or email him at .