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OHRC Statement on unmarked graves found at former Ontario residential school site[s]

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January 20, 2023

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Warning: This statement deals with topics that may trigger some readers, such as racism, emotional and physical abuse, and community, familial and individual trauma. Please engage in self-care as you read this material. The residential schools crisis line is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of a residential school experience. Support is available at 1-866-925-4419.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is deeply saddened by the news about the discovery of 171 plausible burials found in the traditional lands of Wauzhushk Onigum Nation, at the former St. Mary’s Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ontario.

This is markedly tragic. The trickling discovery of graves concerning residential schools is a repetitive grief and trauma for survivors, their families, and collectively, Canadians.

This is a resounding call to governments to immediately order the release of all death records of Indigenous children held by any Canadian authority, church, or any other entity that had care, custody, control, or operated any residential school, to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation as per Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 71 and 77.Those records may be vital in helping survivors and their family members find plausible graves and hasten the end of this tortuous ordeal of finding missing children sporadically.

The OHRC joins the Wauzhushk Onigum Nation, the Kaatagoging Survivors Group, and Indigenous communities across Ontario and Canada in mourning the loss of children who died while attending residential schools.

OHRC Ikidowag Egii-mikigaadegin okanan gete-gikino’amaadiiwigamigong giiwedinong Ontario.