On Tuesday, the federal government announced that they are committing $321 million in funding for programs and services for Indigenous communities affected by former residential schools, including funding for searching burial sites.
Justice Minister David Lametti said in a news conference Tuesday that he would be appointing an interlocutor to work with the government and Indigenous communities to propose changes to federal laws, policies and practices in relation to unmarked graves at residential schools, according to the CBC.
$83 million will be added to an already existing $27-million program to fund searches of burial sites and commemorate the children who died in the residential schools, according to Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.
The government will create a national advisory committee consisting of mental health, forensic, archeology, and pathology experts to assist and advise the government and Indigenous communities on how to locate and identify the children buried in unmarked graves, according to the CBC.
$107 million will be spent by the government to provide mental health, emotional, and culture services to those experiencing intergenerational trauma, said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller.
"Since late May, a number of Indigenous people have contacted our government to share that they are now reliving the experiences they have worked so hard to move on from, opening up old wounds they thought they had healed," said Miller.
Though saying the efforts are long overdue, Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said in a news conference that she welcomes the government's funding for Indigenous-led, survivor-centric efforts.
"We as First Nations have known the truth, we have shared this truth, we have fought for this truth to be heard," said Archibald. "And there must be truth before reconciliation."
In addition, the government will also be providing $100.1 million over two years to support plans on managing the former residential school buildings, whether for demolition, rehabilitation or the construction of new facilities on reserve to house the activities that currently take place in the buildings.
In recent months, over 1,000 unmarked graves have been discovered on the former sites of residential schools across the country, with the largest discovery being found in Kamloops, British Columbia. At the former residential school site, 751 unmarked graves of children were found.
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