WARNING: This story contains distressing details.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary has announced plans to provide financial support for residential school survivors as the country continues to grapple with the the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked burial sites of children’s remains on former school sites in Canada.
“This expresses the commitment of the Diocese to the ongoing work of justice and healing in our country with the Indigenous Peoples and their communities,” read the statement.
There were 25 residential schools in Alberta, four of which were operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and were within the boundaries of the Diocese.
Further details, including the exact amount of the financial support, is expected to be released in September.
Release the records, expert says
But for some, the offer of financial support is not enough.
Linda ManyGuns, the associate vice-president of indigenization and decolonization at Mount Royal University, calls for the church to release its records of residential schools.
“They should be helping this process instead of just [giving] a bit of money and an apology,” said ManyGuns.
“Pay for our culture to get back, pay for our languages to get returned,” she adds.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation estimates about 4,100 children died at residential schools in Canada, based on death records, but has said the true total is likely much higher.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission said large numbers of Indigenous children who were forcibly sent to residential schools never returned home.
Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and those who are triggered by the latest reports.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
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