Ontario will spend $10M to search grounds of former residential schools for more mass graves

ont res

The Ontario government will spend $10 million to help investigate former residential school properties across the province, searching for more mass graves.

The funds will be spent to identify, investigate, protect and commemorate Indian Residential School burial sites.

The funding will also ensure that culturally appropriate, trauma-informed mental health supports are available for Indian Residential School survivors, their families and Indigenous communities.

“Like all Ontarians, I was heartbroken by the news of a burial site containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the former Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia,” said Premier Doug Ford. “That is why our government is partnering with Indigenous communities to address the loss of generations who are no longer with us, and the continued loss experienced by residential school survivors and their families. As we advance meaningful reconciliation, it is important that all of us continue to deepen our collective understanding of the legacy of the Indian Residential School system.”

Over 150,000 Indigenous children in Canada were taken from their homes and sent to the schools notorious for abuse and starvation between 1870 and 1996. 

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, there were 18 Indian Residential Schools in Ontario; the last of these closed in 1991, with some sites since repurposed, abandoned or destroyed.

The province will identify technical experts, including archaeologists, forensic specialists and historians, available to lead the related research, analysis and technical field work required and ensure it is conducted to the highest standard. 

Indigenous communities will have the option to work in conjunction with Ontario specialists, such as those provided by the province’s Centre of Forensic Sciences and the Office of the Chief Coroner/Ontario Forensic Pathology Service.

"I’m grateful that the Ontario government is answering my call and the call of all Chiefs in Ontario to provide funding and work in a respectful manner with local leadership and Knowledge Keepers to search the grounds of all former Residential School sites in Ontario. Our little ones need to be found, named, and where possible, returned to their families and communities. Memorial sites must go up across Ontario to remind us that we can never let this happen to our children again, ever. Thank you, Premier Ford and Minister Rickford, for joining us and supporting us in this healing journey."- Ontario Regional Chief Roseanne Archibald