Ceremony returns thousands of children home by making their names public after deaths at residential schools

Monday, September 30th, 2019 12:06pm



“Today’s event was to return these children home – to allow communities, family members, Nations and regions to once again have their names.” —Ry Moran, director of the NCTR.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has, through ceremony, released the names of Indigenous children who passed away in residential schools. 

(The names can be read here: https://memorial.nctr.ca/?page_id=372 .

During the ceremony, a 50-metre-long cloth bearing the known names of children who died, and the schools they attended was unveiled.

To date, the most accurate number of children identified by name and unnamed death records is 4,200, but only 2,800 names on the cloth. (Families and communities can access more information on each of the children through a request to the NCTR.)

There are approximately 1,600 unnamed students within the register, those for which there is a noted child’s death in a school but for whose name is not yet known.

The ceremony featured the TRC’s bentwood box, a grand entry, speeches from survivors, Indigenous leaders, and NCTR spokespeople, as well as performances by Jeremy Dutcher, Red Sky Performance, and PIQSIQ.

This ceremony, to be broadcast on APTN this evening, became the first time the names have been made public.

“Today’s event was to return these children home – to allow communities, family members, Nations and regions to once again have their names,” said Ry Moran, director of the NCTR.

“In our many visits with survivors and communities across the country, the question of what was being done to honour these children was central in every discussion. Survivors told us that these children deserve to be honoured and remembered; that it would be a profound failure if we were allowed to forget this history as a nation.”

In 2018, the NCTR received funding from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs to begin this work.

“This is a significant moment in furthering healing and justice for survivors and returning the names of these children to their families and communities so they can be honoured, celebrated, and commemorated,” said Moran. “There are some names and stories we may never know, yet we must never forget them.”

There are additional names of children waiting to be found not included within this register. There remains an extensive amount of work to be done to find all the children that never returned home and their burial sites.

A National Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support to former students. This 24-Hour Crisis Line can be accessed at 1-866-925-4419