Politics Blog: Discovery of mass burial of residential school children spurs call for real action

Ottawa – June 8, 2021 – The horrors of the residential school system were once again laid bare, upon the discovery of a mass burial containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children. While many Canadians are shocked by the discovery the real horror has been the lack of any action by the federal government.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report in 2015 – the same year of the federal election, when Liberal leader Justin Trudeau proclaimed there was no more important relationship than the one with Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Yet six years after the report only 10 of the TRC’s 94 recommendations have been fulfilled.

After the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Canada does not fund Indigenous children in foster care equally; instead of righting the injustice the Trudeau government moved to fight the decision in court.

In the last eight years the federal government has spent more than $3.2 million in legal fees fighting the disclosure of documents that could support the claims of survivors at St. Anne’s Indian Residential School.

In 2015 Justin Trudeau promised to end all boil-water advisories on First Nations reverses but the has goal yet to be accomplished with the federal government now backtracking its commitment to 2026.

Meanwhile, only a small fraction of the money committed by the federal government to search and locate mass burials of residential school victims has been spent.

Two years after the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) released its final report the federal government developed its plan to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations. The plan has been labelled inadequate by prominent Indigenous women’s advocates with The Native Women’s Association of Canada announcing their withdrawal from the process calling it toxic and dysfunctional. 

The time for prayers and symbolic gestures from this federal government is over. Canada must take real and immediate action to implement all 94 recommendations of the TRC and drop all its legal actions against Indigenous children and residential school survivors in the courts.

This should be priority number one for this Liberal government – not an unnecessary election that would only further delay real action.