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Residential schools: Long-term funding needed for investigations, sheriff says

WILLIAMS LAKE, BC – The First Nation chief searching for unmarked graves at a former residential school in British Columbia says it is seeking long-term funding as it prepares for today’s visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Williams Lake First Nation chief Willie Sellars said his community, along with others conducting similar investigations at formerly government-run church facilities across Canada, needed financial assistance. for their work from start to finish.

He says mediation begins with a healthy community, and they also need long-term funding to support the mental health and well-being of school survivors, their families and communities. native copper.

The First Nation in the central interior of BC announced in January that a preliminary geophysical investigation had found 93 “mirror images” that may indicate children buried around the School site. population of St. Joseph’s Mission before.

He said they need Ottawa to provide a complete profile of the organization, along with support in urging the Roman Catholic church to do the same, as it works to identify children who never return. go home.

Sellars says the federal government’s role in promoting reconciliation should also include supporting economic development and key community needs, like housing.

The investigation at St. Joseph’s was conducted after ground-penetrating radar identified the alleged locations of more than 200 graves at a former facility in Kamloops last year.

Trudeau told media in Vancouver on Tuesday that he looks forward to meeting Sellars to talk about the challenges and hardships his community and others have experienced since the unmarked graves were found.

The educational institution of St. Joseph’s Church was opened by the Roman Catholic Church in 1891 as an industrial school, where indigenous children were asked to do labor such as chopping wood and doing farming, Sellars said in January. It remained open until 1981.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, which documents the experiences of survivors and others affected by Canada’s residential schools, says at least 4,100 children have died as a result of the abuse. abandoned in educational institutions.

Residential Schools Health Aid Program India has a hotline to help neighborhood survivors and their loved ones who have been traumatized by recalling abuses in school. past. The number is 1-866-925-4419.

This Canadian Press report was first published on March 30, 2022.

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