When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ("TRC") was established, it was a direct result of a Settlement Agreement between Residential School Survivors, the Assembly of First Nations, church organizations and the Government of Canada. It came into effect in 2007, and has gained significant traction and interest since its inception. The TRC's mandate was to document and preserve the personal histories of survivor testimony. There is a secondary mandate that considers historical records to establish a paper trail of support to the survivor testimony, and to promote the spirit of reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
About 150,000 Aboriginal children were forced to assimilate into Indian Residential Schools, and the process included forcibly removing the children from their families, many to never be seen again. Some deaths were by suicide, but most were due to illness or disease, often after the child had run away from the school.
Recently, the Executive Director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ("TRC") recommended that a report be undertaken to investigate the history of children who died or went missing while in the care of Residential Schools in Canada. Its objective is to examine what has become the "Missing Children Issue."
Four fundamental questions will be explored:
Who and how many Indian Residential School students died?
What did the Indian Residential School students die from?
Where are the students buried?
Who went missing?
The research initiative will include the analysis of text-based documentation, and the oral testimonies that provide a history, which could be cross-referenced with text-based documentation.
Research into the Missing Children will focus on three main areas:
The systematic way of gathering the information will reveal Canada's dark past, and illustrate the mistreatment of Indigenous people by the Residential School system. Its primary function outside of recording history is to encourage and inspire reconciliation.
Do we want to live in a haunted house the rest of our lives? Joseph Boyden
Considering Chief Justice McLaughlin of the Supreme Court of Canada called the cultural genocide against Aboriginal peoples the "worst stain on Canada's Human Rights record," this exploration into Missing Children is long overdue. The focus of this project is on stories and testimonies of children like Chanie...