In his statement yesterday at Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc, the Prime Minister indicated that the Government of Canada has handed all records on residential schools to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR).
Unfortunately, this is not accurate. At present, we are still waiting for Canada to provide the final versions of school narratives and supporting documents used in the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) to the NCTR. The NCTR has various school narratives on its website, but some are out of date. For other schools, no narrative has ever been provided to the NCTR.
Additionally missing are various Library and Archives Canada quality records and records from provincial governments, most of whom have not yet produced vital statistics, including death certificates for children lost at schools or coroners’ reports. The NCTR is also in negotiation with Canada concerning statistical records to be generated from the database which was used for claims resolution in the IAP.
Negotiations have been ongoing for records since the creation of the NCTR from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. This means Survivors and their families have been waiting for years and counting.
At present, we are also still unable to access Indian Hospital records, federal health records, and day school records. All of these records are crucial not only to support missing children research, but to fully and truthfully document the residential school system, the children who died in the schools, and the ongoing legacy.
To truly commit to Reconciliation, the Government of Canada must work with the NCTR to make all records available and encourage provincial governments to do the same. The Government must also support delivery of all historical records as an opportunity to build partnership to fully understand the impact of residential schools.
If the Prime Minister is telling all Canadians and Indigenous Peoples that the NCTR holds all records, it is time for that to be true.