University of Toronto Department of Anthropology Statement on Unmarked Burials at Former Residential Schools
Content warning: This statement deals with child death, colonialism, residential schools, genocide, and intergenerational trauma.
The University of Toronto Department of Anthropology wishes to express condolences with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and with all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities whose missing children died in residential schools across Canada. We acknowledge the trauma that communities continue to endure as more unmarked graves are located.
We stand in solidarity with Chief Rosanne Casimir, of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, who has called upon the Catholic Church to issue a public apology for residential schools and to release all records pertaining to the Order of the Sisters of St. Ann. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples who call on the federal government, churches, and private landowners to immediately and without exception act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 71-76: to release records, to develop and maintain a registry of deaths, to inform families about children who died in residential schools, and to provide funds to support the maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries.
Canada’s Indian Residential Schools policy is not an isolated historical event, but part of a systematic and sustained system of ongoing settler-colonial violence. We commit as a scholarly community to undertake and support anthropological research, teaching, and service that confronts this legacy and its continuation in contemporary structures and policies.
The Canadian Archaeological Association/Association canadienne d’archaéologie, the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology, and the Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology/’Association canadienne d’anthropologie physique are making resources available to support communities seeking knowledge and action with regard to their missing children.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419 for anyone who affected by residential schools.