NCTR calls on all provincial and territorial governments to release death records of Indigenous children following Ontario’s agreement to cooperate
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) welcomed the Ontario government’s commitment to cooperate with the Centre to transfer approximately 1800 death records of Indigenous children. The NCTR encourages all levels of government to comply fully and expediently to Calls to Action 71 and 77 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Call to Action 71 calls upon all chief coroners and provincial statistics agencies to provide records on the deaths of Indigenous children in the care of residential schools, to the NCTR.
Meanwhile, Ontario is in progress of complying with Call to Action 77 — to transfer all provincial records that document residential school histories. Negotiations between the NCTR and the Province of Ontario regarding the transfer of residential school-related records began six years ago. To ensure privacy, documents will be encrypted during transfer and storage.
While the Centre has not yet received any coroner’s reports from any of the provinces, the NCTR has received all death certificates from British Columbia and Alberta, and some records from Yukon and Nova Scotia.
Some of the challenges that NCTR encounters in analyzing these records include: record keeping processes vary by government, which may pose a challenge in processing and analyzing data; death certificates may not include information about whether a child attended a residential school; or the child’s Indigenous name is rarely found on the death record.
These death records are essential to finding and identifying all the children who died due to the residential school system. Although some provinces are actively working to share important records, the NCTR requires full cooperation from all jurisdictions.
Together, with countless people and the advice, guidance and blessings from Survivors, Elders and Knowledge Keepers, the NCTR created the National Student Memorial Register to remember and honour the children who never returned home from residential schools. This register currently names 4127 children who were lost and there are potentially thousands more, yet; however, we cannot confirm and honour these lost children without the outstanding records currently still in the hands of the various levels of government.