The Government of Canada has announced that it has provided funding to support Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s efforts to locate and commemorate missing children who may have attended residential schools in their traditional territories.
Elected Tla-o-qui-aht Chief Moses Martin was not available for comment, however, Thomas George of Tla-o-qui-aht stated on behalf of the nation, “this funding support is an important first step in helping our nation identify the atrocities and harm done to our children and facilitate the healing of our members who endured the pain and suffering in Canadian Residential Schools.”
According to a federal government statement released on Feb. 16, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is conducting ongoing research and addressing the location of potential unmarked burial sites using ground-penetrating radar.
“The First Nation will work with elders and knowledge keepers to respond to family wishes to memorialize their losses and the children’s final resting place at two former Christie Residential School sites on Meares Island and in Tofino in British Columbia,” reads the statement.
The federal government is providing funding to the tune of $543,180 over three years to support Tla-o-qui-aht’s search and commemoration of the children who attended Christie.
“The First Nation will also create lasting historical resources to tell the story of survivors, their families and the community, sharing their stories with local schools and organizations to increase awareness and support ongoing healing and reconciliation,” states the media release.
The Government of Canada says it is working with Indigenous people address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the legacy of residential schools.
“Our hearts are with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation as they undertake this painful but important work to locate and memorialize missing children from Christie Residential School sites. We acknowledge Canada’s failure in protecting the rights of Indigenous children - taken away from their families and cultures - and we remain committed to supporting your work as you uncover the truth and work toward healing,” said Marc Miller, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.
The national Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour line at 1-866-925-4419.
Indigenous peoples can also access the Hope for Wellness Help Line by phone at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat through the website 222.hopeforwellness.ca.