July 16th, 2024

Catholic Church and B.C. First Nation unveil covenant on residential schools

By The Canadian Press on June 26, 2024.

The leader of Vancouver's Roman Catholic archdiocese says the church was "wrong" in administering residential schools in British Columbia, and he hopes a newly released covenant can act as a road map for redress. The former Kamloops Indian Residential School, left, is seen in an aerial view on Tk'emlups te Secwepemc land, in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

KAMLOOPS, B.C. – The leader of Vancouver’s Roman Catholic archdiocese says the church was wrong to administer residential schools in British Columbia, and he hopes a newly released covenant with a First Nation can act as a road map for redress.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller and Tkemlups te Secwepemc First Nation Chief Rosanne Casimir have told an online news conference the covenant signed earlier this year contains commitments from the Catholic Church, including full transparency of records to identify children missing from residential schools.

Miller says the church will also provide “technical and scientific expertise” to address questions about ground-penetrating radar surveys for potential unmarked graves at sites around the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The covenant between the archdiocese, the Tkemlups te Secwepemc and the Diocese of Kamloops was signed in March, about three years after the First Nation said about 200 possible unmarked burial sites had been found around the former school.

Indigenous communities across Canada have since conducted searches at other residential school sites and made similar discoveries.

Miller says he hopes the covenant in B.C. will lead to “similar journeys” in other First Nation and Christian communities in Canada, calling the “sacred” agreement “an instrument of further dialogue and accountability.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2024.

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