Province to spend $10M more on residential school burial site searches in Ontario

Ontario is doubling its funding commitment to support searches for burial sites near residential schools.

The additional $10-million funding announced today in the province’s fall economic statement brings the total spending promise to $20 million over three years.

The government has said the money is meant to support Indigenous-led search processes to identify, investigate and protect burial sites near the facilities notorious for abuse and violence.

Also in the economic update, the government said it would wave fees for the next three years for families and communities looking to obtain death records for Indigenous children who attended residential schools.

Read more: Ontario set to release death records of 1,800 Indigenous children

It’s also extended a fee waiver for residential school survivors looking to reclaim traditional names.

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The initial funding for burial site searches was announced this summer after reports that the remains of 215 children were found at a Kamloops, B.C. residential school.

More Indigenous communities announced similar disturbing discoveries across Canada in the following months.

The findings back up testimony from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, which recommended governments work to locate, document and commemorate where children who died at the schools were buried.

The commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario and the province has said there are likely more.

Read more: Task force investigating residential school in Brantford, Ont. reveal first case

It reported the known deaths of 426 children who attended Ontario residential schools and an unknown number of missing children.

Thursday’s announcements come shortly after the province confirmed it was in the process of transferring death records of approximately 1,800 Indigenous children to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Those records of school-aged Indigenous children cover the last 70 years of deaths reported in the province.

That transfer is another recommendation from the commission’s final report.

The centre tasked with keeping records about the commission and residential school system has called on other provinces to follow suit, as well as share coroner’s reports and other records.

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© 2021 The Canadian Press

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