Friday, February 23, 2024

Province commits $12 million in funding to support BC residential school site investigations


The BC government has allocated $12 million to support First Nations throughout BC with investigations into former residential schools sites.

The funding will also provide wellness support for communities that experienced trauma from the recent residential school site findings.

The province made the announcement Monday morning, June 28th.

Coordinating closely with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), the Province is supporting First Nation-led strategies to identify, investigate, document, maintain, protect an/or commemorate residential school sites.

The province said that a number of First Nations, including Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc and Daylu Dena Council, have requested assistance to determine the next steps for searches at other sites, including removing structures, providing resources for healing and identifying other supports.

The provincial and federal governments, and the FNHA, intend to coordinate mental health and cultural support for Indigenous peoples experiencing distress or trauma as a result of findings at residential schools.

Current support systems are linked at the bottom of this article.

“Finding evidence of a burial site for children who attended the former Kamloops residential school was a stark reminder of the atrocities of the Canadian residential school system and how those continue to be felt to this day,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

“Many other sites throughout the province and country are still the source of unanswered questions and terrible pain. It is imperative that we take our lead from First Nations as we move forward, and we will continue to act quickly and in a coordinated way to support their needs.”

In BC, a total of 18 residential schools operated.

The first residential school, St. Mary’s in Mission, opened in 1863 and was eventually the last school to close in 1984 after 121 years in operation.

In total, five residential schools operated on Vancouver Island.

The Christie Residential School which operated near Tofino closed in 1983.

There have been 202 confirmed deaths of First Nations’ children at these schools on the island.

In addition to residential schools, there were more than 100 day schools and three Indian hospitals in Prince Rupert, Nanaimo, and Sardis.

Here are current support services for victims of residential schools in BC: 

  • The KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides a 24-hour, provincewide Indigenous crisis line for Indigenous peoples in BC.
  • Adults, call 250 723-4050. Children and youth, call 250 723-2040. Toll-free: 1 800 588-8717.
  • First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line for Indigenous people across Canada: Phone toll-free 1 855 242-3310 or chat online.
  • The Métis Crisis Line for Métis people in B.C., available 24 hours a day at 1 833 MétisBC: 1 833 638-4722
  • Tsow Tun Le Lum for Indigenous peoples in B.C., phone: 1 888 403-3123
  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society, phone: 1 800 721-0066 or 604 985-4464.
  • 24-Hour National Crisis Line for residential school survivors and others affected: 1 866 925-4419.

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