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Brantford calls on federal and provincial governments to release records

City of BrantfordBrantford calls on federal and provincial governments to release records

Brantford City Council unanimously supported a Notice of Motion that calls on the federal and provincial governments, and the Anglican church to respectfully release to the Survivors’ Secretariat immediately, all documents in the possession of the Government of Canada or the Government of Ontario or the Anglican church related to the former Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School now located on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, within the geographic boundaries of the City of Brantford during a Special Council meeting held on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

At the onset of the meeting, Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis acknowledged the city’s proximity to the largest population of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the City’s shared grief for victims of the residential school system as well as Survivors and their families, saying “tonight, we will hear from Survivors of the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School directly about their experiences and how together with the Survivors’ Secretariat they are calling on the Federal and Provincial governments to release all documents related to the former Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School to the Survivors’ Secretariat.” 

“We are grateful to the City of Brantford for their support and advocacy of our mandate to create a community archive by collecting all related records from governments, churches and other institutions that were known to have been involved in the operations of the Mohawk Institute,” said Kimberly Murray, Survivors’ Secretariat Executive Oversight Lead. We also want to express our sincere thanks to Councillor Joshua Wall for bringing this action forward and consulting us in the development of the notice of motion.”

Joshua Wall, Ward 5 Councillor, who worked very closely in consultation with the Survivors’ Secretariat to draft the Notice of Motion, said the Motion was developed with an intention to ensure it was respectful and would help the Survivors’ Secretariat’s efforts, adding that, “if the City of Brantford can release all records related to the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School, other levels of government can too, because survivors and the families of those who never came home deserve to know the truth.”

Members of Council and City staff heard directly from three survivors including Dawn Hill, Geronimo Henry and Diane Hill, who shared the trauma of their experiences at the former Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School that operated from 1831 to 1970 within the boundaries of what is now the City of Brantford.

Council also heard from Survivors’ Secretariat representative Scott Robertson who detailed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s specific call to action that the federal government work with churches, Aboriginal communities, and former residential school students to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including, where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children.

A copy of the resolution will be sent to: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Premier Doug Ford; Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller; Minister of Indigenous Services, Patty Hajdu; Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Greg Rickford; MPP Will Bouma; MP Larry Brock, Mayor David Bailey; Chief Mark Hill; Chief Stacey Laforme; and representatives of the Survivors’ Secretariat.

To garner additional support, the resolution will also be forwarded to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) for circulation to all municipalities in Ontario with an invitation to adopt a similar resolution, and, specifically, to those located within the Haldimand Tract, including: Haldimand County; the County of Brant; the City of Cambridge; the City of Kitchener; the City of Waterloo; and the Region of Waterloo.

To date, the unmarked burials of over 7,000 missing Indigenous children have been uncovered nation-wide.

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