National advisory committee formed to assist in locating unmarked graves

Kamloops Indian Residential School (Archdiocese of Vancouver Archives circa 1937)

By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – The federal government and National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) announced the formation of a National Advisory Committee on Residential Schools Missing Children and Unmarked Burials on July 20. 

The committee will bring together experts in a variety of fields, including Indigenous laws and cultural protocols, forensics, archeology, archival research, criminal investigations, communication and working with Survivors, to provide Indigenous communities with reliable information on how to identify, locate, and commemorate unmarked gravesites. 

Its work will be guided by a Circle of Survivors, composed of two First Nations, two Métis and two Inuit survivors. Terri Brown, a circle member from Tahltan Nation, said the committee is doing “important heart work” in a news release announcing its establishment. 

NCTR executive director Stephanie Scott said the committee’s work “will be part of the important healing journey to honour the little ones” who never returned home. 

“Too many children were denied the final dignity of being laid to rest according to their own customs and traditions. Too many families and communities have never been able to find their loved ones who didn’t come home from residential school,” Scott said in the release.

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller said the committee will “ensure Indigenous-led and culturally sensitive technical advice is available to support” Indigenous communities when they are locating and commemorating unmarked graves. 

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