Saanich calls on Ottawa to fund the hunt for remains on residential school grounds

Saanich council is calling on the federal government to devote resources to investigating whether the remains of First Nations people are buried on former residential school grounds and elsewhere on traditional lands, including confirming identities of any remains discovered and repatriating them to their families and nations.

The joint motion, from Mayor Fred Haynes and Coun. Nathalie Chambers, follows the discovery in May of what appear to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at the now-closed Kamloops residential school on Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc territory.

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Saanich council is also urging the federal government to implement the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The motion will go to the Union of B.C. Municipalities to seek support from other municipalities.

Haynes told council at a Monday meeting that the motion is important to Saanich’s efforts to establish a government-to- government relationship with First Nations.

“We need to stand with them not only for the future, but for what happened in the past,” the mayor said.

“How do we move forward with reconciliation unless we have recognition of these sad times and, as some people have said, genocidal actions.”

Saanich plans to write to the prime minister and other federal and provincial officials to make the request.

The motion covers any Indigenous organization that wants to use ground-penetrating radar or other means to investigate the presence of remains.

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