Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time.
Tonight we have heard some very difficult and heartfelt speeches. We heard a common theme from the Prime Minister and many others and it is about listening to the communities.
We have a short time frame for speaking tonight, so I thought the most important thing I could do tonight would be to share with the House and Canadians what the communities are saying, what their message is and what their requests are. In a conversation with Kukpi7 Casimir today, we talked about what I should say on her behalf and her community's behalf. She also has an official news release, and this is a direct quote:
As the last logs go on our sacred fire, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of support to our community. Thank you for helping us bring to light such hard truths that came from the preliminary findings regarding the unmarked burial sites of Kamloops Indian Residential School students so that we may begin the process of honouring the lost loved ones who are in our caretaking. We love, honour, and respect these children, their families, and communities.
To the Prime Minister of Canada and all federal parties, we acknowledge your gestures, but as a community who is burdened with the legacy of a federally mandated Indian Residential School, Canada must face ownership and accountability to Tk'emlups te Secwepemc as well as all communities and families.
We have heard from many survivors from our own community and beyond. They are finally being heard after so many years of silence and disbelief about the deaths of children in the residential schools. No words are sufficient to express the comfort and love we wish to extend to survivors and intergenerational survivors. We see you, we love you, and we believe you. We are thankful to the many who are working hard with us to ensure supports are there as you come to terms with these latest findings as well as your own truths and traumas.
For further important context, we also direct everyone's attention to the report, “Where are the children buried?”, by Dr. Scott Hamilton, which states:
This report addresses the question where deceased Indian Residential School...students are buried. This is difficult to answer because of the varying circumstances of death and burial, coupled with the generally sparse information about Residential School cemeteries. It requires a historic understanding of school operations that contextualizes the patterns underlying death and burial.
Chief Casimir further stated:
We ask all Canadians to reacquaint themselves with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report and Calls to Action – upholding the heavy lifting already done by the survivors, intergenerational survivors, and the TRC. In addition, to show your solidarity, we encourage you to wear an orange shirt and start conversations with your neighbours....
She also had many specific requests to respect the jurisdiction, including their cultural laws and traditions. She daid that they must be respected and that they must be in control of all aspects of the next step. She talked about calls to action 71 to 76 and how critical they are.
The AFN has only seen moderate progress on this particular report card. The calls to action are really important and there has been moderate progress. We also heard that there have only been a few million dollars spent out of the $33 million that has been put aside.
I do not think any Canadian has not been terribly ashamed, which is an important word to use. There are 215 innocent children in unmarked burial sites at one residential school, and there were 139 schools. This is a shame and a failure. It is our burden to carry, and we must start to ease the heavy load that has been carried by indigenous people for far too long.