We call upon the federal government to allocate sufficient resources to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to allow it to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusOct. 4, 2021IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusSept. 5, 2021IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress”?

Budget 2019 announced $33.8 million over 3 years starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020 to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register and work with parties to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries.

Records of Children’s deaths in Residential School

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
Sept. 30, 2019 – The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation revealed the names of 2,800 children who died in residential schools in a ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec. A 50-metre long blood red cloth bearing the names of each child and the schools they attended was unfurled and carried through a crowd of Indigenous children, elders and chiefs, residential school survivors and others. Ry Moran NCTR Director, says an additional 1,600 also died but remain unnamed. There were also many hundred who simply vanished, undocumented in any records so far uncovered. (Toronto Star). In total, 4,037 Indigenous children are listed in the Memorial Register:

Records of DeathsDescription
1,953Positively identified
365Additional names added to the memorial register after additional investigation
477Under Investigation
1,242known to have passed away but whose names are not yet known

Indian Residential School (IRS )deaths per province and territory, 1867-2000

Province/Territory# of IRSNamed RegisterNamed and Unnamed
Registers Combined
Alberta25557821
British Columbia18352580
Manitoba14164338
Northwest Territories14190252
Nova Scotia11515
Nunavut141215
Ontario17264426
Québec121738
Saskatchewan18375566
Yukon62974
Total1391,9753,125
Final Report of the TRC Commission Volume 4: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials

The TRC’s “Missing Children and Unmarked Burials Project” supports the following conclusions:

  • The Commission has identified 3,200 deaths on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Register of Confirmed Deaths of Named Residential School Students and the Register of Confirmed Deaths of Unnamed Residential School Students.
  • For just under one-third of these deaths(32%),the government and the schools did not record the name of the student who died.
  • For just under one-quarter of these deaths (23%), the government and the schools did not record the gender of the student who died.
  • For just under one-half of these deaths (49%), the government and the schools did not record the cause of death.
  • Aboriginal children in residential schools died at a far higher rate than school- aged children in the general population.
  • For most of the history of the schools, the practice was not to send the bodies of students who died at schools to their home communities.
  • For the most part, the cemeteries that the Commission documented are aban- doned, disused, and vulnerable to accidental disturbance.
  • The federal government never established an adequate set of standards and reg- ulations to guarantee the health and safety of residential school students.
  • The federal government never adequately enforced the minimal standards and regulations that it did establish.
  • The failure to establish and enforce adequate regulations was largely a function of the government’s determination to keep residential school costs to a minimum.

Official Federal Government Response: “Modified” June 11, 2021 – but nothing changed from Sept. 5, 2019

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada has provided funding to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to support the development of a database registering the children who died or went missing while at Indian residential schools. This represents a critical first step towards addressing Calls to Action 73 to76.

In addition, Budget 2019 announced $33.8 million over 3 years, starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register and work with parties to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries.