Probe urged of burial sites
Need for investigation backed by residential schools commissionhttp://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1272133&auth=JOHN%20PAUL%20ZRONIK,%20EXPOSITOR%20STAFF
Posted By JOHN PAUL ZRONIK, EXPOSITOR STAFF
Posted 48 mins ago
The national Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission has approved recommendations that could see burial sites at former residential schools examined in an effort to find out how some students died.
Commissioners recently accepted recommendations put forward by a "missing children working group" to examine the number and cause of deaths, illnesses and disappearances of children at residential schools, as well as the location of burial sites.
"The commissioners recognize the importance of addressing this issue in a culturally-sensitive way that is respectful of former (residential school) students and their families who have lost children or are still searching for burial sites," said commission spokeswoman Kimberly Phillips.
Between the 1800s and 1996, there were more than 100 residential schools in Canada, including Brantford's Mohawk Institute, which were designed to assimilate native children into Canadian society.
Most student deaths at the schools were attributed to tuberculosis, but there have been claims that some students died due to abuse, neglect, murder or being deliberately exposed to fatal diseases.
PLIGHT OF CHILDREN
Earlier this year, Kevin Annett, a former United Church minister who has spent more than a decade researching the plight of children who attended residential schools, said the grounds of the former Mohawk Institute, which closed in 1970, could hold evidence of "genocide" against natives. He has contended that up to 50,000 children died or were killed at residential schools across the country.
"I've talked to a number of survivors from (the Brantford school) and this is a natural place to start an investigation," Annett said during a visit to the city. "We want an investigation into the burial site behind the school and we want to start that in conjunction with the elders from various native groups."
The commission is working to develop a strategy for implementing the working group's recommendations. It is not yet known whether an investigation will take place at the former Mohawk Institute, today known as the Woodland Cultural Centre.
Phillips said research will involve a review of all relevant church and government records, as well as information provided by former residential school students, staff and anyone else who wishes to contribute.
A budget for the project has yet to be confirmed.