Actions and Commitments

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

Moving from Our Heads to Our Hearts to Our Hands Summary Report of the National Gathering on Unmarked Burials: Supporting the Search and Recovery of Missing Children

January 12, 2023

Summary Report of the National Gathering on Unmarked Burials: Supporting the Search and Recovery of Missing Children: Sept. 12-14, 2022

NationTalk: The first National Gathering, held in Treaty 6 Territory and the homelands of the Métis Nation in September 2022, was an important beginning to support knowledge sharing amongst Indigenous communities and organizations leading this recovery work. I am so grateful to all those who were able to attend the inaugural National Gathering on Unmarked Burials in Edmonton. As the work progresses, I will continue to learn from Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Holders, experts and youth who are leading us towards truth and healing. The work we do together is Sacred work, and I am humbled to have been asked to support you along the way.

Kimberly Murray, the Independent Special Interlocutor 

From September 12-14, 2022, over 300 people gathered in Treaty 6 Territory in the City of Edmonton for the first National Gathering on Unmarked Burials. In addition, over 120 people joined online to watch the livestream of the Gathering. The Gathering brought together Survivors, Indigenous families, communities, and Leadership from many provinces and territories, including Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Quebec, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon.

As well, experts in search technologies, international law, forensic anthropology and archeology provided presentations on key topics relating to the search and recovery of missing children and unmarked burials. Government and church representatives also attended to listen, learn and reflect on the presentations
and knowledge shared at the Gathering, and to make commitments about how they will support communities in their efforts to find the missing children and unmarked burials. To see the full Program, visit the OSI website at and click on Past Events.

The purpose of the first National Gathering was to bring people together to support their searches for missing children and unmarked burials. Specifically, the Gathering was aimed at:

  • creating a supportive forum of knowledge sharing among Survivors, Indigenous families and communities leading the Sacred work to search for unmarked burials and recover the missing children;
  • hearing from experts and technicians
    as they shared their knowledge and experiences so that Survivors, Indigenous families and communities can learn from others and determine their best way forward; and
  • providing a way for the Independent Special Interlocutor to receive input from Survivors, Indigenous families and communities and others to inform recommendations for a new federal legal framework to ensure the respectful and culturally appropriate treatment and protection of unmarked graves and burial sites.

Challenges and Barriers Identified by Participants 

  1. Securing Access to Records
  2. Protecting and Accessing the Sites
  3. Understanding the Impact of Trauma
  4. The Need for Sufficient, Long-Term Funding