It’s past time to act on Calls to Action
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/06/2021 (716 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Last week, I spoke at an emergency debate about the discovery of the bodies of 215 children at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, one of the largest schools in the IRS system.
I criticized the Liberal government’s abysmal record on reconciliation and the fact that it has been six years since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, and, according to the Yellowhead Institute, only eight of the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action have been completed.
The sad truth is that the tragic discovery at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc was a reminder of the many children who lost their lives as a result of genocide in the IRS system. Many of these children were placed in unmarked graves, never to return home, leaving families wondering where their loved ones were.
In fact, according to former Sen. Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the TRC, the number of children still to be found could be as high as 25,000 as a result of genocidal actions noted in the TRC’s final report.
It is clear that what happened at residential schools is consistent with Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, established in 1948, including “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group,” which sometimes resulted in death.
While the last IRS closed in 1996, Canada has yet to truly reconcile the injustice perpetrated against Indigenous peoples. At a minimum, the federal government must immediately implement the Calls to Action specific to the federal government.
This includes Calls to Action 71 through 76, which ensure that Indigenous peoples are able to bring their children home. Funding must be provided to support communities in ground searches at IRS sites, and all necessary measures must be taken to protect these sites and provide Indigenous Nations with time to decide how they wish to proceed. Families and communities need closure.
Moreover, the federal government must make available the necessary resources to assist survivors, families, and communities with ongoing mental health and trauma supports, and immediately stop fighting St. Anne’s residential school survivors in court over reparations.
Most importantly, we must continue to support survivors, families, and communities in their calls for justice and ensure that all sacred children can be brought home. I know the many people I have spoken to and work with in Winnipeg Centre share this view along with thousands and thousands of others across Canada.
To those needing support related to the impacts of the IRS, especially with the recent news from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc at the Kamloops Indian Residential School the Indian Residential School Survivors Society can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-721-0066. To access emotional and crisis referral services, a 24-hour national crisis line can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.
Winnipeg Centre constituency report
Leah Gazan is the NDP Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre.