Robinson-Superior Treaty and Fort William First Nation Territory, Thunder Bay, Ontario – First Nations people knew that the Kamloops residential school discovery was only the beginning. So too did the perpetrators, yet they remained silent. Each new discovery of children’s remains on residential schoolgrounds across Canada is a searing reminder of government sanctioned harm, including death, of First Nations children and their ties to family and culture. In the past, this harm was ignored, denied, minimized, and dismissed by the Canadian government, justice system, and by many Canadians even in the wake of abundant testimony by former residential school students and their families about cruelty towards children and the disappearance of children. With the latest discovery of 751 unmarked graves at Marieval Residential School in Saskatchewan, the truth of Canada’s appalling past and its continuing impact on our present is being realized by a growing number of Canadians. Finally, we will be able to start bringing the lost children of residential schools home which is necessary and vital for our collective healing process.
The Anishnawbe Business Professional Association joins others in a call to action for perpetrators to be brought to justice for the systemically executed cruel separation of children from their families, cultures and languages, and the repeated failure to provide the necessities of life to those children who simply disappeared, never to return home again. Those responsible from the Churches, federal and provincial governments, and the RCMP, must answer to the rule of law. There must be formal, legal recognition of the harm to students, parents and successive generations of First Nations people impacted by government funded, and almost exclusively Church operated, residential schools. We cannot accept half-mast flags and empty apologies as a sufficient response to these crimes against humanity – crimes against innocent children. Before we can have reconciliation, we must have truth and justice, both of which are long overdue.
Our thoughts are with the Cowessess First Nation community and all those families and relations that have experienced indescribable loss due to the Marieval residential school and its legacy of harm.
About the ABPA:
The Anishnawbe Business Professional Association (www.anishnawbebusiness.com) is a non-profit, member-based organization based in Thunder Bay, Ontario. ABPA serves the First Nation business community within the Treaty #3, Treaty#5, Treaty #9 and Robinson Huron and Superior Treaty Areas. The ABPA develops and expresses positions on business issues and other public issues relevant to First Nation business, on behalf of its members. They provide a forum for the First Nation business community to develop policies and programming which contribute to the socio-economic well-being and quality of life of First Nations peoples in Northern Ontario. They also serve non-First Nation businesses by providing information, guidance, and access to a wide-ranging network through events and sponsorship.