Truth before reconciliation: MP Atwin demands immediate searches at residential school sites
1 June 2021
FREDERICTON: Jenica Atwin, Member of Parliament for Fredericton added her voice to the growing chorus of those demanding immediate searches for the remains of children at the sites of former residential ”schools” in the wake of discovering the remains of 215 children in Kamloops, B.C.
“While I am no longer surprised by the horrors uncovered, my heart breaks again and again with each new discovery,” said Atwin. “The residential schools were weapons used to dismantle Indigenous culture, language, and identity by separating families and exposing them to horrific abuse. These were deliberate acts of genocide. The Truth and Reconciliation calls to actions 71 through 76 specifically addressed the need for ongoing searches to find missing children and burial sites. The federal government must take action to ensure that appropriate commemoration ceremonies take place according to the wishes of the families.”
Atwin’s comments were echoed by Paul Manly, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith. “The government needs to act immediately. Release all documents related to deaths and burial grounds at all residential schools. Compel the churches and other levels of governments to do the same. Secure the grounds of all residential schools until proper searches for burial sites can be conducted. Pay for the cost of ground penetrating radar. Families have waited for too long.”
The legacy of the residential schools continues to plague Indigenous communities today. Indigenous children make up more than half of all kids in foster care. This represents more children in care today than were enrolled in residential schools at the height of their operation.
“We are just starting to come to terms with the truth of what has been. We need immediate resourcing from the federal government to unearth these truths at the site of every residential school across Canada. And any records the government holds need to be declassified immediately. There are families that need closure,” said Atwin. “And we need to recognize that the actions of those that came before us have consequences today – consequences that demand action. We have the roadmap handed to us by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit people. We simply need to start taking steps in the right direction.”