The federal government is contributing $12.5 million to the construction of a healing centre at the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation almost two years after the nation announced the discovery of 215 suspected unmarked graves near a former residential school.
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu told a crowd in Kamloops, B.C., that the nation has led the way in opening the eyes of the country to the truths that were always known to Indigenous Peoples.
The federal funding is in addition to $2.5 million committed by the First Nation Health Authority to address the harms of residential schools on Indigenous families, and $1.3 million from the authority to help the community with engagement and planning.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the funding commitment when he visited the community in October 2021.
The total cost of the centre hasn’t been revealed and it’s not clear where it would be built.
Members of the nation voted in a referendum to keep the Kamloops Indian Residential School building and Ottawa has also committed up to $1.5 million to assess the building for renovations and design upgrades.
Tk’emlups Chief Rosanne Casimir says in a statement the centre will provide culturally appropriate help to address the long-standing impact of the schools.
“The legacy of residential schools is one that has tried to take our culture, language and identity from us, causing profound damage.”
Since the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc announced the discovery of suspected unmarked graves, many other nations have made similar findings.
Hajdu says the nation is now showing what is possible along the healing journey.
“Canada will continue to support the survivors, their families and the affected communities through their healing journeys, on their own terms,” the minister said in a news release.
— With files from CHNL.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.