Statement from the CBA President on the discovery of bodies at former B.C. residential school

  • May 31, 2021

The discovery of the bodies of 215 children buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia has shocked and horrified many Canadians. But it should not come as a surprise. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recorded that thousands of the children taken away to the residential schools never returned home. Many families never found out what happened to their loved ones.

The Canadian Bar Association joins with all who mourn the lives of these children, victims of cultural genocide, and their families and communities.

The physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children forced to attend church-run Indian Residential Schools across Canada – as well as the assimilationist governmental policies that the schools supported – has had a traumatic impact on generations of Indigenous Canadians.

The CBA has prioritized the advancement of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. As the first Indigenous President of the CBA, and the grandson of a residential school survivor, I have made it my priority to speak out about the need to ensure all Canadians are aware of dark chapter in Canada’s history.

The former residential school in Kamloops is unlikely to be the only such site where the bodies of children will be found. The Canadian Bar Association calls on the government of Canada and the churches involved to fully implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 71-76, which deal with the issue of missing children and unmarked burials, and to fully resource the work needed to do so. Finding and returning these missing children is a necessary step toward healing for Indigenous people and communities – and for Canada as a whole – as well as a critical part of this country’s reconciliation journey.

Brad Regehr
CBA President