The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is calling on churches to release all school records to First Nations.
“These survivors and their families have suffered enough. They had to fight to survive, they shouldn’t have to continuing fighting for a proper apology and compensation,” said Chief Bobby Cameron.
The organization is crediting the United Church of Canada for making available its residential school records and providing financial support to survivors for searches of unmarked graves at former school sites across the country.
The United Church operated 15 residential schools in Canada, including two in Saskatchewan at Round Lake and File Hills.
“We are aware of cemeteries on some of these sites, and we know that there are also unmarked and likely undocumented graves of children,” The Right Rev. Dr. Richard Bott said.
The Church explained that it helped the community of Okanese preserve its graveyard and honouring the children buried there. It has also partnered in the preservation of the Regina Industrial School cemetery, although that school was operated by the Presbyterian church, yet the United Church shares responsibility.
“This work is just a beginning, and we understand that it must continue. Steps are required to properly locate, identify, and honour these children, and for the truth that Indigenous people have always known to finally be heard,” Bott said of the ongoing search for unmarked or undocumented graves.
The continued pressure from the FSIN for church records comes after the Cowessess First Nation announced in June, the discovery of as many as 751 unmarked graves at the former site of the Marieval residential school and the new search at the Delmas residential school which started Saturday.