PHOTO: Department of Justice Canada
📑 A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support for former Residential School students. Emotional and crisis referral services are available by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
📑 The Hope for Wellness Line is available to all Indigenous peoples and provides immediate, toll-free telephone and on-line support and crisis intervention 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is available in English, French and, upon request, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut. Trained counsellors are available by phone at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat on their website.
The identification of unmarked graves and burial sites of Indigenous children at former residential schools has caused us all to reflect on Canada’s history and the truth of this troubling past. While Canada has taken steps to address the past and the ongoing legacy of intergenerational trauma, there is more work to be done in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders and communities to ensure justice for Survivors, families and future generations of Indigenous children.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, and Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation announced the appointment of Kimberly Murray as Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools. This appointment is a critical step towards respectful commemoration and justice for First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada.
Starting June 14, 2022, Ms. Murray will work closely and collaboratively with Indigenous leaders, communities, Survivors, families and experts to identify needed measures to recommend a new federal legal framework to ensure the respectful and culturally appropriate treatment and protection of unmarked graves and burial sites of children at former residential schools.
In her capacity as Special Interlocutor, Ms. Murray will engage with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments, representative organizations, communities, Survivors and families to discuss issues of concern around the identification, preservation, and protection of unmarked graves and burial sites, including the potential repatriation of remains. The Special Interlocutor will guide this process, facilitate listening and action by engaging in conversations in ways that are culturally informed, trauma-informed, appropriate and respectful, and based on Indigenous customs, decision and consensus-building practices. Her mandate will also extend to facilitating dialogue with provinces, territories, local communities, as well as other relevant institutions, such as various churches.
This work will be carried out independently and impartially, in a non-partisan and transparent manner. The Special Interlocutor will deliver an interim report after the first year describing her work and progress to date. A final report will be delivered at the end of two years. Both interim and final reports will be delivered concurrently to the Minister of Justice and to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Survivors, families, leaders and communities, and to the public.
The appointment and the work of the Special Interlocutor will be supported by a proposed investment in Budget 2022 of $10.4 million over two years.
➟ The position of Special Interlocutor was created following the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada’s engagement with Indigenous leaders across the country, in which the importance of an Indigenous-led response was reiterated.
➟ Budget 2022 proposes important investments to address the shameful legacy of residential schools, including $10.4 million over two years to Justice Canada to support the appointment and work of the Special Interlocutor. This initiative is intended to complement other Budget 2022 proposed investments, including:
✓ $209.8 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to increase the support provided to communities to document, locate, and memorialize burial sites at former residential schools; to support the operations of and a new building for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation; and to ensure the full disclosure of federal documents related to residential schools, where possible
✓ $5.1 million to Public Safety Canada to ensure the Royal Canadian Mounted Police can continue to renew and strengthen existing relationships between the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR), Indigenous communities and police agencies in providing support in missing persons and unidentified remains investigations
✓ $25 million over three years, starting in 2022-23, to Library and Archives Canada to support the digitization of millions of documents relating to the federal Day School System, which will ensure Survivors and all Canadians have meaningful access to them
✓ $25 million over three years, starting in 2022-23, to Parks Canada to support the commemoration and memorialization of former residential schools sites
For more information, media may contact:
Press Secretary - Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Media Relations - Department of Justice Canada
Press Secretary - Office of the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Media Relations - Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The Department of Justice Canada works to ensure that Canada’s justice system is as fair, accessible and efficient as possible. The Department helps the federal government to develop policy and to draft and reform laws as needed. At the same time, it acts as the government’s legal adviser, providing legal counsel and support, and representing the Government of Canada in court.