United Church Encouraged by Government Commitment to Search Residential School Records
TORONTO, April 25 – In a statement released today, The United Church of Canada has applauded the comments recently made by Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice indicating that he has asked department officials to initiate a search of archival records for information related to deaths of students attending residential schools.
Scott says the United Church is also fully supportive of the need to search archival records in order to identify the extent to which conditions in residential schools may have contributed to what The Globe and Mail has called “a toxic breeding ground” for diseases like tuberculosis.
“The United Church recognizes the tragic reality that, over the course of the history of residential schools, many Native children died as a result of illness, disease, or accident, a fact undoubtedly exacerbated by the institutional setting and inadequate funding,” says Scott.
For over a decade, The United Church of Canada has acknowledged and apologized for its involvement in the federal system of Indian Residential Schools and has actively sought paths of justice, healing, and reconciliation. Scott says the church acknowledges its part in the colonial enterprise which resulted in a society that has been unjust, abusive, and racist.
Scott explains that the response of the United Church to the legacy of the residential school system is shaped and co-ordinated by the Residential Schools Steering Committee which includes Aboriginal members from across the country, some of whom are residential school survivors. The United Church has also been guided by ongoing consultation with Aboriginal political, healing, and survivor organizations.
“We consider that the treatment of Aboriginal peoples, including the imposition of the residential school system, constitutes a most shameful chapter in Canada’s national history,” says Scott. “The United Church is committed to facing the ugly realities of the residential school system and to actively living out its apologies.”
For further information: Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The United Church of Canada, (416) 231-7680 ext. 2016 (office), (416) 885-7478 (cell), (416) 766-0057 (home)