Two organizations that operated residential schools in Saskatchewan and British Columbia are committing to releasing records.
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate's OMI Lacombe Canada and Notre‐Dame‐du‐Cap community says they will continue to release what they have on residential schools. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate ran 48 residential schools across Canada, including the Kamloops and Marieval schools.
"We remain deeply sorry for our involvement in residential schools and the harms they brought to Indigenous peoples and communities," they say in a statement.
The groups says they have been working to do this, noting that issues are coming up.
"While some progress has been made, this disclosure is not complete and has been complicated by issues of provincial and national privacy laws."
They say they will:
- disclose and not block access to the historical documents maintained by us and in our possession, as is possible within the law, to establish the truth of what happened in residential schools
- seek guidance from and work with First Nations and federal and provincial governments on these matters
- will work with bishops and other leaders in the Catholic church to support full truth in these matters
On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement about the Marieval Indian Residential School announcement.
"The hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada’s responsibility to bear, and the government will continue to provide Indigenous communities across the country with the funding and resources they need to bring these terrible wrongs to light. While we cannot bring back those who were lost, we can – and we will – tell the truth of these injustices, and we will forever honour their memory," Trudeau says.
OMI Lacombe Canada previously released a statement regarding the 215 bodies found in Kamloops, expressing their regret.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is asking Canada to declare residential schools to be classified as genocide.
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' president, Archbishop Richard Gagnon, wrote a statement on the conference's Twitter account after the Thursday announcement.
"I find it very sad and disturbing to read about the uncovering of burial grounds at the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Cowessess. Bishops fully support the investigative work underway and we want to collaborate in the process," he says. "Bishops desire to accompany Indigenous Peoples and their communities through listening and actively working together to find solutions."
CCCB President Archbishop Richard Gagnon: I find it very sad and disturbing to read about the uncovering of burial grounds at the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Cowessess.— CCCB (@CCCB_CECC) June 24, 2021
Previous calls for records
Many of the National Truth and Reconciliations Commission of Canada's 94 Calls to Action involve preserving residential school documentation, including burial information. At the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, their records were brought to Winnipeg in the 1970s.
On Thursday, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) released a statement, asking again for records.
"Navigating the landscape of incomplete and inconsistent Residential School records and Survivors testimonies while facing ongoing barriers from multiple levels to receiving full access to records is complex and will take time," they say.
In an earlier interview after the discovery of 215 children in Kamloops, B.C, Archbishop Richard Gagnon, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said they were committed to reconciliation, including a meeting with the Pope.
"It is a difficult thing and it is also a blessing in that too, that it also provides space for God to work and to bring reconciliation. Reconciliation requires truth; it requires justice."
He said records were not hidden.
"There is lots of talk in Canada of the Catholic Church withholding files and those sort of thing. That is misinformation, completely."
At the time, Raymond Frogner, Lead Archivist for the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation said there were issues with records that were given, including missing sex and cause of death information.
"Not every religious order's archives sent everything that they were supposed to have sent to us," Frogner said, noting this requires negotiations.
For those in need of support, the Residential School crisis line is 1-866-925-4419. Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has established a second number for Saskatchewan residents at 1-306-522-7494.