Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 76: Missing Children and Burial Information (71-76)

National Framework for Investigation and Protection of Burial Sites

June 2, 2021

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) at UBC – NCTR and IRSHDC re calling on the federal government to work in collaboration with residential school Survivors and Indigenous governments to establish a national framework for investigation and protection of burial sites, consistent with the rights, laws, jurisdiction and protocols of the affected Nations.

  • The NCTR and IRSHDC emphasize that all potential residential school burial sites must be investigated and documented. Until such investigations can take place, these sites must be protected from erosion, destruction, manipulation or disturbance.
  • Hiding, damaging, interfering with or destroying the graves of residential school children must be recognized as a crime and prosecuted as such.
  • In addition, national standards must be put in place concerning use of investigative technologies such as ground scanning radar to respect the privacy of affected families and ensure that any evidence of crimes is not compromised.
  • A renewed commitment to ensure the affected Nations have all records related to missing and buried children and documentation where records are absent is urgently required.

Finally, all measures to investigate and protect burial sites must be consistent with the rights of Indigenous peoples in domestic and international law, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This includes respect for the decision-making authority of Indigenous governments and the right of Indigenous peoples to control their own lands and territories. The UN Declaration specifically calls on states to work with Indigenous peoples to develop appropriate mechanisms to protect and return human remains.