The United Church is making funds available to support the work of Indigenous communities for the identification of unmarked graves.

orange shirts displayed on steps outside legislature building
Orange shirts are placed outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C. in honour of 215 children buried in an unmarked grave at the Kamloops Residential School.
Credit: ©THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Published On: July 22, 2021

The United Church of Canada is making funds available to support the work of Indigenous communities for the identification of unmarked graves, knowledge gathering, and ceremony to honour the children who did not return home from its 15 residential schools. This is an act of reparation and responds to Calls to Action 73–76 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

“The United Church of Canada was an active participant in a system that ripped Indigenous families apart by forcibly removing the children from their homes,” says the church’s Moderator, Richard Bott. “We have written to Indigenous leaders of the communities where 13 United Church-run residential schools were located, and in the case of the other two, communities whose children were taken there. We have let them know that we have made funds available so that the work of bringing home the children does not solely rest on their shoulders. We played a critical role in this and we as a church need to be more action focused in our commitment to reconciliation.” The Moderator also released a wider statement to the residential school survivors, their families, and communities.

A special meeting of the General Council Executive on July 20th, 2021 approved three million dollars to fund this work, which also includes archival research and providing communities access to documents. The United Church turned over all its existing records to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Commission and continues to send records that come to light. The General Secretary, Rev. Michael Blair, notes, “Our history as settlers is a ‘we can fix this’ attitude. Clearly, we have been very wrong. We need to listen before we act, and support communities as they define their needs.”

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