THUNDER BAY — NDP MPP Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong), Ontario NDP critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, released the following statement in response to the horrific discovery of hundreds of children in unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school near the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan:
“These children were taken from their parents, and never returned home. Their families never stopped searching for them, and never stopped missing them. They are not numbers. They are children. They are our ancestors and our cousins. They are people who should have had full lives, and whose children and grandchildren should be with us today.
As a person that attended residential school, I am calling on all churches and governments that operated residential schools to release all their records. Forcing us, as Indigenous people and survivors, to conduct heartbreaking and gut-wrenching searches when records could spare us some of that pain is re-traumatizing — and is ongoing institutional colonialism and oppression.
Discovering our lost children is necessary, but not the only action we must take. The 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission must be properly resourced and implemented. Communities still need access to clean water, safe housing, and equitable access to health care, education and mental health supports. Indigenous people are still dramatically overrepresented in the child welfare system. Politicians expressing sorrow now at the discoveries of children’s graves, but who have had the power to act for years and chose not to, need to stop thinking that words alone are enough.”