Ontario Indigenous group criticizes federal government’s unmarked graves contract

The Indigenous Political Organization, which represents 39 Ontario Indigenous Peoples, said it was “baffled” by the federal government’s decision to hire an international organization to provide advice on unmarked graves.

The Anishinabek Nation today released a statement expressing the “confusion” of its leaders over Ottawa’s $2 million contract with the Netherlands-based International Commission on Missing Persons.

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Vice-Chancellor Travis Boissonneau says we shouldn’t learn about the agreement until after it’s finalized, and questions whether we’ve consulted indigenous peoples or survivors of boarding schools.

The organization also questions the need for the committee’s involvement in the first place when Ottawa has already appointed an Indigenous expert to provide advice on unmarked graves.

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The commission’s executive director recently told the Canadian Press that they should give their work a chance, and that it was the Cree community that first turned to them for help.

Sheila North, a Manitoba Cree leader hired by the commission as a program manager, will provide the community with options for identifying human remains that may be in unmarked graves. It says it will not duplicate the work of indigenous experts.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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