Residential Schools and Reconciliation
The Alberta Party acknowledges the heartbreaking discovery of 215 innocent children buried at Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in British Columbia during the operation of the Kamloops Indian Residential school. This should be a time of mourning for everyone in our province.
We also must be committed to Truth and Reconciliation. A provincial inquiry into residential schools must be undertaken to bring to light the tragedies known and unknown in Alberta. Alongside this inquiry, funding for a program similar to B.C.’s “Pathway to Healing” grant, which enabled this discovery, must be made available.
Kristie Gomuwka, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Relations, issued the following statement in response to the terrible discovery:
“Although many will label this as a historic tragedy, it is critical that we remember that each and every one of those lost have family members that live amongst us today and the true stories of residential schools continue to be unearthed in present time. During the time of the residential school system, Alberta had a total of 25 residential schools, the most of any province in Canada.
The Alberta Party strives to ensure that we create a standard of practice in everything that we do that respects the true meaning of reconciliation. We honour the gifts that our Indigenous friends offer to our province and seek to incorporate Indigenous values as we build our vision for the future of Alberta.
These recent events are an illustration of why we must continue to advocate for a stronger representation of Canadian Indigenous perspectives in the United Conservative Party’s K-6 draft curriculum. The history of residential schools must be taught to our future generations so that we may never relive this dark chapter in our history again.
Reconciliation begins with education.”
Throughout their existence, Residential schools and government policy towards Indigenous people were - and in some cases remain - shrouded behind complacency, ignorance, and lies. Without a full provincial inquiry and appropriate funding, reconciliation can never be achieved. This is only the beginning in this process.
More can be done. Where requested by Indigenous communities, these graves should also be commemorated or relocated and marked. The children in these graves deserve the same treatment children receive under the Jordan Principle, which states “all First Nations children living in Canada can access the products, services and supports they need, when they need them.” Alberta’s priority should be getting this vital work done, not fighting over who should pay. The Alberta Party calls on the government to make funding available immediately, then pursue compensation from the federal government and religious institutions where appropriate.