Plans underway to share historical documents related to Canadian Residential Schools

One of the many images shared on social media after the bodies of 215 children were found at a former residential school site in B.C.

The federal government has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement that outlines how and when Canada will share historical documents related to Residential Schools.

Residential Schools forcibly removed Indigenous children—First Nations, Inuit and Métis—from their communities and denied them their families, languages and culture while also exposing them to widespread abuse.

The timing will be set by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and will begin with school narratives. The Memorandum also outlines next steps to acquire records of Residential School history.

A media release said residential schools are part of a shameful and racist colonial policy, the effects of which are still felt today. Canada has a moral obligation to Survivors to pursue the truth. This includes providing support to Survivors, as well as to those suffering from intergenerational trauma, in their search for answers and healing.

The media release added “Canada recognizes the importance of preserving and sharing documentation that will help the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation honour and remember the children who attended Residential Schools, while respecting Survivors’ wishes, legislation, court orders, settlement agreements and ongoing litigation processes. This also highlights the new collaboration between the NCTR and Canada, and is a step towards a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples, accountability, and a stronger understanding of the legacy of Residential Schools.”

“We will continue to support the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation as they move forward with the critical work of preserving the historical records of Residential Schools and their impact on Indigenous Peoples for future generations. We are committed to rebuilding trust and strengthening our relationships with Indigenous Peoples by taking steps like these to support Survivors, their families and communities in their efforts to heal, as well as work toward closure and accountability,” said Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations.

“Today’s agreement is another step along the path set out for us by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission six years ago. Through these records, we hope to uncover more truth on behalf of Survivors, their families and their communities,” said Stephanie Scott, Director, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

“We need to have access and the freedom to review and do research through the records for the truth. This truth is important for all of Canada to know, understand and learn from. It will only be through this path that we can move forward in a good way together in Reconciliation,” said Garnet Angeconeb, Survivor Circle Member, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.