London, Ontario June 15th, 2021 – After speaking at the All Ontario Chiefs Conference (AOCC), Minister Rickford joined Ontario Premier Doug Ford for a press conference announcing $10 million will be spent over the next three years to help identify and commemorate burial sites at former residential schools. This is a step in the right direction and paves the way for more progress in building a Nation to Nation relationship.
Grand Chief Joel Abram states “While it is sad that it takes the discovery of 215 children for action to occur the journey has begun. The search to find more who perished, unjustly, will be a long one and the numbers will continue to grow. Further, it is important that the government keeps in mind that this is not something they can do on their own. Any kind of process of identification and commemoration must include Indigenous communities if healing and recovery can occur. You’re not going to make this scar go away, it will not fade in time, but you can remember how it got there and take the necessary steps that it is not inflicted again.”
Deputy Grand Chief Stacia Loft says “It’s easy to say that efforts will be Indigenous-led and that cultural practices are observed however, it’s imperative that the government action their words. Our people will be watching and keeping a close eye to ensure that our children can finally go home and find peace in their lands and not in unmarked, unacknowledged graves.”
The Nation’s populace, Indigenous and non-indigenous, was outraged at the treatment of Indigenous children that were taken from their families and thrust into an alien environment. If any progress is to be made then the pains of the past must be recognized and acknowledged if healing is to begin