NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the federal government to search the grounds of other former residential schools following the discovery of remains of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said last Thursday that preliminary findings from a survey of the grounds at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School uncovered the remains of children, some as young as three years old.
“It is not good enough for the federal Liberal government to just make symbolic gestures,” Singh told reporters during a news conference in Ottawa on Monday.
“This isn’t the last site; there are many others to be found. Indigenous communities deserve to have the justice that every site like this is uncovered.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission made six recommendations regarding missing children and burial grounds, including a call for the federal government to work with churches, Indigenous communities and former residential school students “to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including, where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children.”
Singh has written to the Speaker of the House requesting an emergency debate to discuss next steps for the government to take.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner said her party supports this debate.
“More action needs to be taken. This is not a time to talk. We have to be taking cues from Indigenous leaders across the country,” she said.
“This discovery is a stain on our country.”
A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.