Hiring of group to advise on unmarked graves called ‘problematic’
The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation says there are many problems with the $2 million deal Ottawa recently signed with the International Group.
The center says that the Canadian Indigenous Relations Agency and the Canadian Northern Affairs Agency have hired a Netherlands-based organization to address the issue over a possible cemetery near a former residential school in a “very careful engagement process.” said it was “deeply concerned” by the decision to launch.
“All work related to the harm caused by the boarding school system, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, must be led by indigenous peoples and survivors must be at the center of this work. There was a clear understanding, Wesley Eskimo, chair of the Center’s Governing Circle, said in a statement Monday:
“Putting the planned engagement process in the hands of non-Indigenous peoples (organizations) is a failure and very worrying.”
The federal government recently announced it had hired an international commission on missing persons to provide advice on unmarked graves. The Commission plans to conduct his campaign of outreach with the community to indicate their interest in hearing about options regarding DNA analysis and other forensic techniques before submitting the final report.
Ottawa says it has hired the commission because some communities are looking for options and is obligated to help them search, but the center and other supporters are funding the church. So says the work around the unmarked grave must be done independently of the federal government…running the boarding school system in the first place.
Last week, the commission released a copy of the technical agreement it signed with the government in January and confirmed that its final report will be submitted by mid-June. Federal officials will be allowed to comment on the draft report and attend meetings related to the group’s work, the agreement says.
The agreement itself also states that an indigenous facilitator will be employed to attend the discussion and meet the “spiritual and ritual” needs of the participants throughout the process.
Stephanie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, says the agreement itself raises more questions.
The Center provided a list of locations it said had insufficient agreement and risked further harm to indigenous communities and survivors.
Among its concerns were that the contract did not state that the commission’s work needed to be done in a trauma-based manner, and that it recognized the central role that boarding school survivors must play. There is nothing.
Even worse, the center suggests, the work Ottawa is commissioning appears to overlap with Indigenous-led efforts already underway. This “means deliberately undermining their work,” the center’s statement said.
The agreement does not mention the need to work with a national advisory committee, which the government has already tasked with investigating issues related to unmarked graves and missing children, the center said. the center says. Nor does it mention a special independent interlocutor, Kimberly Murray, appointed to address the issue.
Eugene Arcand, a member of the Center for Truth and Reconciliation’s Survivors’ Circle, wonders why Ottawa is an international group that lacks the knowledge of the boarding school system and the “cultural competence” necessary for such a sensitive discussion. He says he doesn’t understand why he’s pointing at you.
The center has already expressed concerns to Crown and Indigenous Relations Minister Mark Miller and said it will make further recommendations.
In a brief statement on Monday, Myler’s office said it was subject to amendments for “joint review” by federal authorities and the international commission.The commission has not yet responded to a request for comment.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on February 20, 2023.
If you are a former boarding school student in need or are affected by the boarding school system and need help, call the 24-hour Indian Boarding School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 or Indian Boarding Schools. You can contact the school. The Survivor’s Society toll-free number is 1-800-721-0066.
Additional mental health support and resources for Indigenous Peoples are available here.