The federal government has already turned over all records it has pertaining to residential schools, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Oct. 18 during a visit to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.
Trudeau visited the community to make amends for vacationing in Tofino on Sept. 30, the first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, rather than accept an invitation from the band to mark the occasion in its community.
The new federal holiday was enacted by Trudeau’s government on June 3, just days after the band announced it had found signs of probable unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School from a ground-penetrating radar survey in May.
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir reiterated a call for the federal government to give the band unfettered access to student attendance records it has in its possession for the residential school.
Trudeau, however, said all documents the federal government has pertaining to the Kamloops institution and all other residential schools have already been turned over to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Winnipeg.
“We will continue to look to make sure there are no others that remain to turn over, but we have, to my understanding, turned over all of those records, including full or partial attendance records to the Kamloops Indian Residential School, dating back to the 1800s, with, I think, only the first two years of the existence of the school, where we don’t have any records at all,” Trudeau said.
He said the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Commission is “the central depository” for all those records and his government and First Nations leaders are working with the Catholic Church and other organizations to get them to turn over their residential school records.
Casimir said the documents are of critical importance in identifying missing children detected by the band’s search and a step toward reconciliation.
Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week