Call to Action # 75: Actions and Commitments

Fed. Govt.

December 15, 2021

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Cowassess First Nation

$703,230 funding over three years for the community’s Gravesite Reclamation Project.

Survivors, intergenerational Survivors, knowledge keepers and leaders will continue the work that has already started on researching, commemorating, locating and identifying the gravesites of missing children. During the next three years, work will progress on research, archival and statement gathering, additional fieldwork, commemorative markers, electronic mapping of all marked and unmarked graves, and a monument.

June 22, 2021

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Federation of Sovereign Indian Nations


Federation of Sovereign Indian Nations = $4.88M (16 Indian Residential Schools)

Research, knowledge gathering and the initial ceremonies related to the burial sites of children who never returned from residential schools to their Indigenous communities. The funding will also help communities gather the information necessary to guide appropriate ground penetrating radar work.

January 27, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Garden River First Nation

Jan. 27, 2022: $1,485,770 for the “The Garden River First Nations Survivor Fund” is undertaking work related to burial sites associated with Wawanosh Home for Girls, on research and knowledge gathering with Survivors, their families and Knowledge Keepers for commemoration and memorialization projects, and will document and video tape fieldwork investigations using global positioning technology.

In addition, Garden River First Nation will establish a Survivors-based protocol for archival research and for interviews with Survivors and their families that ensures the work will follow spiritual, customary, ethical and religious protocols in relation to burial investigations at the former Shingwauk Residential School grounds and surrounding area.

May 17, 2022

Govt of Canada update on actions to help Indigenous communities to respond to and heal from impacts of residential schools

Crown and Indigenous Services Canada and Northern Affairs Canada : On May 16:

  • the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations;
  • the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services;
  • the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage;
  • the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada;
  • the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada;
  • the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety; and
  • the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency; 

provided an update on the Government of Canada’s actions to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis-led, Survivor-centric and culturally informed initiatives helping Indigenous communities respond to, and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools.

The Government of Canada has been working directly with communities to support their plans to locate and commemorate children who never returned from residential schools through Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada’s Residential School Missing Children’s – Community Support Funding program. Specifically in relation to searches, $78.3 million has been delivered to Indigenous communities across the country to support 70 initiatives in research, knowledge gathering, commemoration, memorialization, and fieldwork investigation around the sites of former residential schools.

Budget 2022 has allocated an additional $122 million over the next three years to the Residential School Missing Children’s – Community Support Funding program, bringing the Government of Canada’s total investment to $238.8 million to date to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76 on residential schools missing children and burial information.

To ensure communities have a trusted source providing access to professional assistance in the delicate work to locate burial sites, work is being finalized to establish the National Advisory Committee on Residential Schools Missing Children and Unmarked Burials. The Committee will consist of approximately 12 to 15 members with specific expertise in areas such as forensic anthropology or archeology, archival research, Indigenous cultural protocols, communication and financial administration. These members will offer technical expertise and professional advice to communities and the Government of Canada. The Committee will also include three Elders/Knowledge Keepers.

The Government of Canada will support the appointment of an Independent Special Interlocutor to work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments, representative organizations, communities and families, provinces and territories and others to recommend a new federal framework to ensure the respectful and culturally appropriate treatment of unmarked graves and burial sites of children at former residential schools. The Government of Canada recognizes the need to move forward with the selection of the Special Interlocutor and is working in collaboration with Indigenous partners towards an appointment as quickly as possible. The federal government has also collaborated with Indigenous leadership and legal experts to define the Special Interlocutor’s mandate.

The Government of Canada continues to take necessary steps to ensure the complete disclosure of federal documents related to residential schools, while respecting Survivors’ wishes, legislation, court orders, settlement agreements and ongoing litigation. Canada will also support the digitization of millions of documents relating to the federal Indian Day School System (Day School System), which will ensure Survivors and all Canadians have meaningful access to them.

In addition, many communities are expressing a desire to address the legacy buildings and sites associated with residential schools. To help communities deal with these buildings and the painful memories they represent, Canada committed $100.1 million through Indigenous Services Canada to support community plans to manage former residential school buildings on reserves. This funding will support activities such as building demolition, land remediation or the construction of new facilities so that any community-based activities that currently take place in these buildings can continue.  Canada, with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, is researching the status of residential school properties to better understand the current state of any remaining buildings and former residential school locations.

Further, to support the mental health and wellbeing of Survivors directly, Canada invested $107.3 million in 2021-2022 through Indigenous Services Canada  to support the expansion of trauma-informed cultural and emotional supports for residential school Survivors and others impacted by the legacy of residential schools. Additionally, Budget 2022 proposes $227.6 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, to maintain trauma-informed, culturally appropriate, Indigenous-led services to improve mental wellness, and to support efforts initiated through Budget 2021 related to distinctions-based mental health and wellness initiatives.

February 7, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Grassy Narrows First Nation – $157,000 funding to research gravesites at the former McIntosh Residential School in Northwestern Ontario. The school, founded by Roman Catholic missionaries, was located 30 kilometres northwest of Vermilion Bay. It operated from 1925 to 1969. “We will take steps to commemorate and memorialize the children that died while attending McIntosh Residential School so that they will always be remembered,” he said.

March 1, 2022

Grouard IRS (St. Bernard’s IRS)

Grouard IRS (AKA – St. Bernard’s IRS – The Kapawe’no First Nation in northern Alberta announced the discovery of 169 potential unmarked graves on the former grounds of the St. Bernard’s IRS

January 17, 2022

Discoveries of unmarked graves at Residential Schools

Kamloops Residential School

Jan. 17, 2022: CBC – The leadership of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc hopes to identify and locate missing children believed to be buried in unmarked graves. The federal government plans to transfer more than 875,000 records through a recently signed agreement with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), the archival repository for all of the material collected by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Those files include the school “narrative” for Kamloops IRS, which summarizes the institution’s history, including its administration, attendance record, key events and reports of abuse.

June 8, 2022

Fed Govt Nat. Advisory Committee & Interlocutor

Kimberly Murray appointed Special Interlocutor

CBC: Kimberly Murray, a Mohawk woman originally from Kanehsatake in Quebec, has been appointed special interlocutor to co-ordinate the government’s response to the unmarked graves that have been identified at a number of former residential school sites.

Murray comes to the job with experience with this sort of work because, for the last year, she has been overseeing an investigation into deaths at the former Mohawk Institute Residential School near Brantford, Ont. Murray has also served as Ontario’s first-ever assistant deputy attorney general for Aboriginal justice. Before that, Murray served as the executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, where she worked to ensure the stories of survivors of the residential school system were heard and remembered.

As interlocutor, Murray’s job will be to work with Indigenous communities to draw up some recommendations to strengthen federal laws and practices with regard to unmarked burial sites. Murray will also engage with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments, representative organizations, communities, survivors and families on issues like the identification of graves and the potential repatriation of remains.

The intention is to bolster efforts to protect and preserve these sites, which are thought to be the resting place of hundreds of Indigenous children who attended church- and state-run institutions in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Murray said she was “honoured” and “humbled” to be appointed to this job, which will see her work with communities to “protect, locate, identify, repatriate and commemorate the children who died while being forced to attend Indian residential schools.” “I pledge to do this work using my heart and my mind in a way that honours the memories of the children who never made it home,” she said.

Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation were on hand for the announcement Wednesday. “We are very pleased to learn of the appointment,” Casimir said. “We’ve taken much responsibility to care for unmarked graves and we’ve taken steps to find out how many children there were, who they were, the communities they came from, how they died and how they came to be buried here.” She noted that, as so many Indigenous communities are launching similar investigations, it’s “vitally important work that’s going to take time and resources.”

“This position of special interlocutor is going to be focused on making sure every door is open when it comes to research, when it comes to documents, when it comes to working with the justice system to see if any justice can truly be served for the wrongs that have been done,” Delorme said.

According to a backgrounder supplied to reporters by Lametti’s office, Murray will identify “needed measures and recommend a new federal legal framework” that will help “preserve the dignity of burial sites of Indigenous peoples.”

The interlocutor will also help determine who is responsible for maintaining the unmarked burial sites, with an eye to respecting the “wishes and traditions of communities and families” associated with these graves.

The interlocutor will also “facilitate dialogue” with the provinces and territories and other relevant institutions, including the churches that administered some of the residential schools before a federal takeover of most sites in the 1960s.

In the last federal budget, the government earmarked $209.8 million over five years to help Indigenous communities document, locate and memorialize burial sites at former residential schools. The government has also allocated funds to pay for programs that provide essential mental health, culture and emotional services to help communities recover from intergenerational trauma.

December 16, 2021

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Lac Seul First Nation

Sioux Lookout Bulletin – $1M funding for Lac Seul First Nation who will engage with 33 affiliated northern Ontario communities to establish cultural and spiritual protocols in working with Survivors, intergenerational Survivors, knowledge keepers and leaders to address the location, documentation, mapping, maintenance and commemoration/memorialization of burial sites associated with the former Pelican Lake Indian Residential School.

January 20, 2022

Release of Residential School narratives

Jan. 20, 2022: CBC – The government said it did not release the documents earlier because of third-party obligations to Catholic entities, including the Sisters of St. Ann, Sisters of Charity of Providence of Western Canada, Sisters of the Presentation and La Corporation Episcopale Catholique Romaine De Prince Albert.

The 11 narratives being released to the NCTR are for the following institutions:

  • Assumption Indian Residential School (IRS)
  • Fort Vermilion IRS, Grouard IRS
  • Sturgeon Lake IRS
  • Kamloops IRS
  • Kuper Island IRS 
  • St. Mary’s IRS
  • Mistassini Hostels IRS
  • Kivalliq Hall IRS
  • Fort George Anglican (St. Phillips) IRS
  • Norway House (United) IRS

These new documents will be added to the narratives the NCTR has for 125 other residential schools. There are no narratives or surviving documents for the residential schools at Lac La Biche, Lesser Slave Lake, St. Augustine and St Joseph’s.

May 4, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Sagkeeng First Nation

Fort Alexander IRS: $610,093

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada: Sagkeeng First Nation has undertaken work related to Fort Alexander (Pine Falls) Residential School and the search for possible burial sites located on the land. The community-led initiative has involved knowledge gathering from Elders. Field investigation work on areas related to the school site location have been on-going since July, 2021. This work has brought together representatives from more than 30 communities that have been impacted by the residential school for ceremonial purposes.

Today, Chief Derrick Henderson of Sagkeeng First Nation, and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced funding of $610,093 from the Residential Schools Missing Children – Community Support Funding program, in support of the Sagkeeng First Nation’s Fort Alexander Residential School Site Ground Penetrating Radar initiative. This funding will further assist with archival research, mental health and wellness supports, and efforts toward memorialization and commemoration of missing children who attended the residential school.

Addressing the harms suffered by Survivors, their families and communities is at the heart of reconciliation and is essential to renewing and building relationships with Indigenous Peoples, governments, and all Canadians.

Sagkeeng First Nation is a Treaty-1 and Treaty-3 First Nation community comprised of Anicinabe people who have resided at or near Alexander Reserve Number 3 located along the Winnipeg River and Traverse Bay. Sagkeeng First Nation has a population of approximately 7,637 people, with 3,352 living on reserve.

June 6, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Sagkeeng First Nation update

CBC: Sagkeeng First Nation’s search of former residential school site uncovers 190 radar anomalies

The search of a former Manitoba residential school site has unearthed what the chief of the First Nation describes as “anomalies” that could be unmarked burial sites, though the true nature of those anomalies remains unclear.

During the search, ground-penetrating radar used in the community of Sagkeeng First Nation uncovered 190 anomalies in the soil that could be the sites of unmarked graves. “So far, we don’t know what’s there,” said Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson on Monday morning. “They are disturbances in the soil that fit the criteria of possibly, potentially, unmarked burials. We don’t know what’s under there yet.”

Henderson said the search sites in the community contain no lasting signs above ground of burials, but are considered by some survivors to potentially be where some missing children who were forced to attend residential school were buried.

Henderson said 137 anomalies were discovered at the arena grounds, and another 53 were found at a site adjacent to the arena grounds near a community store. Both sites are less than a kilometre from the site of the former Alexander Residential School grounds.

Henderson said there were 31 other First Nations communities whose children were sent to Fort Alexander, which operated from 1905 until 1970. Members from those communities will be invited to Sagkeeng in the coming weeks for a ceremony and to discuss what should happen next.

April 20, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Sipekne’katik First Nation

Shubenacadie Residential School: $326,700 

CIRNAC:The funding supports the “Shubenacadie Residential School Support Project for Sipekne’katik.” This funding will assist with the research, knowledge gathering, commemoration, memorialization and fieldwork that will be undertaken by the First Nation on the grounds surrounding the former Shubenacadie residential school.

Sipekne’katik First Nation has already begun the difficult work. The project, titled “Shubenacadie Residential School Support Project for Sipekne’katik,” involves local research and knowledge gathering with Elders, and fieldwork investigation on the surrounding areas of the school that were not included in earlier fieldwork investigation supported by Parks Canada. It will also include commemorative events such as the installation of a plaque honouring the missing children who attended the residential school.

Sipekne’katik First Nation is a Mi’kmaq community of 2901 members and is located in Hants County, Nova Scotia, near Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. 

January 24, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Six Nations of the Grand River

$10,259,9753 in funding over three years

The Survivors’ Secretariat at Six Nations of the Grand River and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced funding through the Residential Schools Missing Children – Community Support Funding program to assist with this important work.The Survivors’ Secretariat will coordinate with Survivors and engage with communities to locate, document, map, maintain and commemorate burials associated with the Mohawk Institute. This Survivor-led process will ensure that this sacred work is done in a way that supports the wishes of Survivors.

May 18, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Stólō Tribal Council

St. Mary’s Residential School, All Hallows and Coqualeetza: $1,077,520 2021-24

Chemainus Valley Courier: Interviews of survivors of St. Mary’s Residential School is being undertaken by the Stólō Tribal Council, and Stólō Nation leadership has said it plans to execute ground searches at St. Mary’s and Coqualeetza, as well as the researching all historical files related to the Coqualeetza site in Chilliwack, All Hallows in Yale, and St. Mary’s in Mission. Stólō Nation will also be interviewing Coqualeetza survivors.

February 18, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

The Nisoonag (Three Canoes) Partnership

Spanish Indian Residential School

$699,574 + $900K from Ontario for 2021-2024

The Nisoonag (Three Canoes) Partnership is an alliance between Mississauga First Nation (MFN), Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation (SFN), and Serpent River First Nation (SRFN) formed to investigate the former Spanish Indian Residential School (IRS) site for unmarked children’s graves

March 29, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Williams Lake First Nation

St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School: $2.9M

Mar. 29, 2022: CTV News – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $2.9M in funding to “continue supporting healing” for members of First Nations communities impacted by the treatment children received while attending a local residential school.

January 7, 2022

Disbursements of fed. funds to find unmarked graves

Williams Lake First Nation

CIRNA – $1,912,460 Williams Lake First Nation will undertake work related to burial sites associated with the former St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School. The community is currently completing a preliminary investigation that includes interviews with former students and their families, an initial geophysical survey, and the compilation of archival and photographic records related to the disappearances and deaths of First Nations students at this institution.