M’CHIGEENG – Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare welcomes an additional $321 million in support for Indigenous communities to respond to and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools.
“Today, the Government of Canada announced $321 million in additional support for Indigenous-led, survivor-centric and culturally informed initiatives to help Indigenous communities respond to and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools, including the creation of a special interlocutor and a national advisory council,” said Ontario Regional Chief Hare, on August 10.
“I welcome today’s announcement, and I would like to thank the honourable Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, the honourable Marc Miller, minister of Indigenous services, the honourable Steven Guilbeault, minister of Canadian heritage, and the honourable David Lametti, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, for your collective commitment in addressing the tragic history of residential schools and supporting survivors, families, and communities.”
“Again it is welcome news, but at this point we don’t exactly know what we are getting into until the process starts,” Regional Chief Hare told The Expositor. “Searchers so far haven’t found anyone (children’s burial sites at unmarked grave sites) at (former) Ontario Indigenous residential schools, but they will,” noting that there are about 18 sites in the province that had residential schools.
“The funding news is welcome, but we don’t know exactly what we are going to find yet,” said Regional Chief Hare. He explained First Nation chiefs were recently presented with the type of equipment that can be used on these kinds of searches. “I said what I want is a ‘find machine,’ and for everyone to do a good job in locating burial sites the first time they search, so a search doesn’t have to be done again.”
“This program will be First Nation driven, we did agree with the premier that it is time for consultation, but as Indigenous people we don’t want to be told what is going to take place. We will be signing the cheques for the search work to be done. But we are really appreciative the government is providing this support for the work that needs to be carried out,” said Regional Chief Hare.
The funding announcement includes allocations of $83 million committed by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC), in addition to the $27.1 million from the last budget, to fund searches of burial sites and commemorate the children who died at residential schools. Over one hundred million dollars in additional funding is being provided toward essential mental health, culture and emotional services to support healing from intergenerational trauma. One hundred million dollars over two years is being provided to help Indigenous communities manage residential school buildings, whether those plans include demolition, rehabilitation or the construction of new facilities.
As well, $20 million in funding is to be used for a national monument in Ottawa that honours the survivors and all the children who were lost.
The government announcement, “is the first step toward justice and healing for survivors and all the children taken from their families and communities,” said Ontario Regional Chief Hare. “With the creation of a special interlocutor and a National Advisory Council, it is essential that residential school investigations remain First Nations-led processes and that families and communities are treated with dignity and respect. Furthermore, funding allocations must be guided by First Nations leadership and government funded programming must abide by First Nation jurisdiction and processes.”
“This is the beginning of a precarious journey which will require partnership, transparency and respect,” continued Regional Chief Hare. “I look forward to continuing this important work alongside the federal government to honour survivors and all the children taken from their families and communities.”