Ottawa has named an independent special interlocutor to connect Indigenous communities dealing with the discovery of unmarked graves with the federal government.
Kimberly Murray, a former executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will work with Indigenous Peoples to recommend ways to strengthen federal laws and practices to protect and preserve burial sites found at former residential school sites.
The government promised to create the position last year after ground-penetrating radar detected what are believed to me hundreds of unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
More burial sites have been found and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller says they are expected to be just the “tip of the iceberg.”
Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, who attended the announcement in Ottawa alongside Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation says the mandate of the interlocutor confirms respect between Indigenous communities and the government.
Murray says she is ready to hear about challenges communities have faced in their tireless efforts to recover, protect and commemorate those buried at former schools, including how to dismantle colonial laws that are obstructing them. Murray has been working as the Executive Lead for the Six Nations Mohawk Institute Survivors’ Secretariat who are overseeing the search for graves of students who did not return home.