CAPA/ACAP Statement on Unmarked Burials at Former Residential Schools

Posted by lharring on Fri, Jun 11, 2021

Content warning/Trigger warning: This statement deals with child death, colonialism, residential schools, genocide, and intergenerational trauma.

We, as Members of The Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology /L’Association Canadienne  d’Anthropologie Physique (CAPA/ACAP), stand in solidarity with communities of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory, and with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities of the missing children who died in Residential Schools across the country, many of whom were buried in unmarked graves. We are saddened at the report concerning the Kamloops Residential School and acknowledge the trauma communities continue to endure. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Report on Missing Children and Unmarked Graves contains many accounts of deaths and burials that were not recorded or acknowledged.

We demand that the federal government act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 71-76 on Missing Children and Unmarked Graves, specifically by providing resources to identify, document, maintain, commemorate, and protect residential school cemeteries and other sites where residential school children were buried.

As physical (biological) anthropologists we are among a broad group of disciplines whose past scientific engagements have been used to support colonial injustice. We affirm our commitment to anti-colonial work broadly, and stand ready to contribute to the pursuit of closure and justice, as defined by, and at the invitation of, affected communities. CAPA/ACAP is in communication with other professional organizations, such as the Canadian Archaeology Association and the Institute for Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology, and is open to additional collaborations and inquiries.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419 for anyone who is affected by residential schools.