Six Nations asks Prime Minister Trudeau for help searching residential school grounds
Canada's largest First Nations territory is asking the federal government to help it search the grounds of a former residential school for unmarked graves.
Six Nations of the Grand River issued an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today, calling on the government to equip the community for a comprehensive search.
Elected Chief Mark Hill notes that the Mohawk Institute in the southern Ontario territory was one of Canada's first residential schools.
Hill says the school was “unregulated and unaccountable from the start.” Six Nations asks that the federal government provide “the latest ground-penetrating radar technology” to expedite the search.
“There is a lot of work to be done. Documentation needs to be studied and preserved. The school cemeteries need to be protected and maintained,” said Hill. “The dead must be honoured, and the survivors must be heard.”
A spokeswoman for Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett's office said work is progressing on the request.
“Throughout the pandemic we have been engaging with survivors, families, Indigenous Peoples and organizations on determining the best path forward to ensure this work is centred on survivors and is culturally sensitive,” Ani Dergalstanian wrote in an email.
Dergalstanian added that more information would be disclosed Wednesday morning at news conference.
The request comes after the bodies of 215 children were found on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
The Tk'emlups te Secwepemc community announced the grisly discovery on Thursday saying an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented” was confirmed.
Six Nations is a predominantly Haudenosaunee community of nearly 13,000 residents outside Brantford, Ont.
The Haudenosaunee are commonly known in English as the Six Nations and in French as the Iroquois.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2021.