National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Concerned Over Federal Agreement for Finding Missing Children from Residential School System

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Reconciliation

WINNIPEG – The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is raising concerns over the Trudeau government’s decision to contract an international agency to carry out engagement with Indigenous communities on identifying and repatriating missing children from the residential school system.

The Netherlands-based International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has been given the responsibility despite having no prior knowledge or experience working with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Survivors.

The Technical Arrangement released on February 17 has created confusion among some Indigenous communities who expected direct investigative support from the ICMP.

Governing Circle member Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux said, “Beginning with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, there has been a clear understanding that any work related to the harms caused by the residential school system must be led by Indigenous Peoples and that Survivors must be at the heart of this work. Putting the planned engagement process in the hands of a non-Indigenous NGO is a misstep and a very worrying one at that.”

“We can all agree on the need for a coherent national response to our missing children. The NCTR is committed to working with Survivors, families, communities, partner organizations and the federal, provincial and territorial governments on this Sacred endeavor. Unfortunately, the federal government has built its engagement process on the wrong foundation. Great care must be taken going forward to protect the health and well-being of Survivors and their families and to ensure that any future strategy respects Indigenous Peoples’ laws and protocols, expertise and self-determined decision-making authority,” said Stephanie Scott.

The engagement process will be primarily focused on providing advice to the federal government.

The NCTR has voiced its concerns to Minister Marc Miller and will provide recommendations to protect the rights and safety of affected families and communities. The engagement process organized by the ICMP will include expert roundtables, townhalls, and regional engagement sessions before reporting its findings and recommendations to the federal government.

The ICMP is to hire Indigenous facilitators to ensure that spiritual and ceremonial needs are met while providing expertise and educational elements on all matters related to identification, repatriation, and DNA analysis.

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