Canada and Ontario Support the Lac Seul First Nation Residential School Research Initiative – Bringing our Children Home
April 4, 2022 — Lac Seul First Nation, Treaty #3 region, Northwestern Ontario — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The locating of unmarked graves at former Indian Residential School sites across Canada is a tragic reminder of the abuse Indigenous children suffered in these institutions. The governments of Canada and Ontario are working with Survivors, affected families, communities and Indigenous leaders as part of efforts to address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the legacy of residential schools. Part of this work includes efforts being made to locate and commemorate missing children who attended residential schools in Ontario, as well as responding to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76.
Lac Seul First Nation is working with 33 affiliated Northern Ontario First Nation communities to ensure cultural and spiritual protocols are maintained in working with Survivors, intergenerational Survivors, Knowledge Keepers and First Nation leadership to address the location, documentation, mapping, maintenance, commemoration, memorialization and fieldwork investigation of burials associated with the former Pelican Lake (Pelican Falls) Residential School.
This is a community-led process which enables Lac Seul First Nation to undertake this work in their own way and at their own pace and in partnership with the 33 other First Nations involved in this initiative.
Chief Clifford Bull of the Lac Seul First Nation; the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services; and the Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs for Ontario, announced funding of $8,743,163 to support the continuing work underway in Lac Seul First Nation.
On November 4, 2021, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) provided an initial amount of $1,000,000 to Lac Seul First Nation, approved for fiscal year 2021-2022. For fiscal years 2021-24, CIRNAC has confirmed additional funding of $6,091,563 to support the community’s Bringing our Children Home initiative. The work includes research, engagement, commemoration, memorialization and field investigation related to the Pelican Lake (Pelican Falls) Residential school.
Indigenous Services Canada’s contribution includes a one-time funding amount of $551,600 to support mental wellness human resources associated with Bringing our Children Home. The staff hired with this funding will support various aspects of the initiative to ensure appropriate mental health supports are in place for those undertaking this difficult work in their communities. This contribution is available through health support funding that was announced in August 2021 to improve access to emotional, cultural, and mental health supports for those impacted by the ongoing investigations and confirmations of unmarked burials at the sites of former residential schools.
Ontario’s contribution of $1,100,000 in 2021-22 includes $700,000 in operating funding to support research and community engagement related to burial investigations, and $400,000 in mental health funding to provide supports to Survivors, Elders, and community members as the initiative proceeds.
Addressing the abuse suffered by Survivors, their families and communities is at the heart of reconciliation and is essential to renewing and building relationships with Indigenous Peoples, governments, and all Canadians.
- Lac Seul First Nation is an Ojibwe First Nation located on the southeastern shores of Lac Seul, 56 kilometres northeast of Dryden, Ontario with a membership of approximately 3,000 of whom 830 live on-reserve.
- On November 4, 2021, the Ontario government announced it was committing an additional $10 million in funding, beyond the original $10 million announcement in June 2021, to support the identification, investigation, protection and commemoration of residential school (IRS) burials across the province.
- In October 2021, Ontario announced over $20 million in Indigenous-focused mental health and addictions programs and services to support residential school Survivors, families, Elders and communities as the work proceeds. This includes $2 million to support First Nations leading burial investigations at the 18 federally recognized former residential schools sites and $2 million to urban Indigenous organizations.
- Indigenous Services Canada is committed to continue working with First Nations and provincial partners to assist in the development of community-led solutions to address mental health and substance use treatment needs in communities. The First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework developed with partners provides a culturally appropriate and trauma-informed framework for these strategies.
- Indigenous Services Canada is investing approximately $650 million each year to help address the mental wellness needs of First Nations and Inuit populations.
- Of this investment, approximately $96,973,046 in 2021-2022 supports First Nation communities and organizations in Ontario in the delivery of community-based Mental Wellness programs, substance use prevention, treatment and aftercare and crisis response services. This amount includes funding to support the delivery of trauma-informed health and cultural support services for families, Survivors and others affected by Indian Residential Schools, Federal Indian Day Schools and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- On August 10, 2021, the Government of Canada announced approximately $320 million in additional support for Indigenous-led, Survivor-centric and culturally informed initiatives and investments to help Indigenous communities respond to and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools, including $83 million in additional investments towards community support funding for residential schools missing children. This $83 million supplements the $33.8 million announced in Budget 2019, for a total investment of $116.8 million responding to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76.
- A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
- The Hope for Wellness Help Line is also available at 1-855-242-3310 or via the online chat function through their website.
“I also extend my deep gratitude to all the partners: the 33 First Nation Chiefs’ resolution authorizing Lac Seul to lead the Initiative; the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council for their unwavering support administratively to ensure that the Initiative was realized and funded. The funding commitment allows us, as First Nations, to search for our missing children and to find the truth through meaningful involvement of the residential school survivors and their families. This means having an ongoing stable mental health, financial and human support system in place that will be critical as we delve into such a dark past.”
– Chief Clifford Bull
Lac Seul First Nation
“Our Government will continue to support Indigenous communities as their unique needs and priorities evolve, including Lac Seul First Nation, with their research and commemoration initiatives to heal from the devastating and lasting impacts of the Pelican Lake Residential School. We acknowledge the difficult work that the leadership, the Survivors, their families, and the community of Lac Seul First Nation is taking on.”
– The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“The work being undertaken with Bringing our Children Home is essential in sharing and finding the truth about the ongoing legacy and impacts of residential schools. This is heavy work, and I applaud Chief Bull and members of Lac Seul First Nation leadership in prioritizing the mental wellness of all those involved every step of the way, fostering a supportive environment for community healing as this process unfolds.”
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
“Ontario is supporting Lac Seul First Nation as they continue to work on this important community-led initiative — Bringing our Children Home. This includes funding for mental health supports for Survivors, Elders, and community members. It is necessary for Ontario to deepen its collective understanding of the legacy and intergenerational traumas caused by the Indian Residential school system on the journey towards meaningful reconciliation.”
– The Honourable Greg Rickford
Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs