NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made the following statement:
“Words are not enough to respond to the devastating news out of the Cowessess First Nation today. Chief Cadmus Delorme’s announcement that 751 unmarked graves have been found at Marieval Residential School is heartbreaking and further proof of the genocide against Indigenous people in this country.
To the elders, survivors and family members who are reliving loss and trauma today after hearing this news – I wish you all peace and healing.
As Cindy Blackstock, Chief Perry Bellegarde and Marie Wilson, former commissioner of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, have all said: this news is tragic but it is not surprising. Hundreds of brave residential school survivors and elders have shared their painful stories with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Stories of violence and abuse against children at the hands of the Catholic Church and the federal government.
The government has to do everything in its power to work with Indigenous communities to bring their children home. New Democrats will keep pushing the government for a robust federal plan involving independent oversight and independent processes as called for by First Nations and other experts. This plan must involve adequate support including for criminal investigations. All Church records must be turned over to ensure justice for Indigenous families. It’s crucial that all of the communities whose children were taken be consulted and informed when these searches are happening. People need an opportunity to prepare themselves for these incredibly difficult discoveries.
Indigenous people deserve more than words and promises. These horrific discoveries make it undeniably clear: the federal government has failed and is continuing to fail First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
The Liberal government has to implement every one of the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation commission. They have to stop underfunding health care and education for First Nations. They have to stop fighting Indigenous children in court. They must address the systemic racism Indigenous peoples face in all Canadians institutions like the RCMP. They have to do the work to implement UNDRIP to change the laws and practices that perpetuate discrimination against Indigenous peoples.
We cannot look away. We have to teach every Canadian child about our country’s history of genocide and about the incredible strength of Indigenous peoples who survived and endured.”