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Burlington Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling on Government Canada to Proclaim a National Day of Mourning for Victims of Residential Schools

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Today, at a Special Council Meeting, we unanimously approved a resolution calling on the Government of Canada to do the following:

  • proclaim a National Day of Mourning for the Victims of Residential Schools;
  • authorize and support an immediate search of the grounds of all former Residential Schools for additional unmarked and mass grave sites and a national initiative to commemorate and protect residential school burial sites across Canada through a process that must be Indigenous-led and carried out through
    ceremony; and
  • continue their efforts to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, specifically Actions 71-76 regarding Missing Children and Burial Information.

Further, we committed as a Council to support the Calls to Action contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report as they relate to municipalities and as one step forward commits to holding a workshop for council and members of Burlington’s leadership team on local Indigenous history.

A copy of the resolution will be sent to: the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development and MP Burlington; Pam Damoff, MP Oakville North-Burlington; Adam Van Koeverden, MP Milton; the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation; the Six Nations of the Grand River; the Credit River Metis Council; the Grand River Metis Council and
Tungasuvvingat Inuit; the Federation of Canadian Municipalities; the Association of Municipalities of Ontario; Halton Region; and the Ontario Big City Mayors’ Caucus.

You can read a copy of the full resolution here — Motion-Memorandum Re National Day of Mourning — or scroll down to the end of this post.

It was a very dark day when we heard the news across the country of the discovery of the remains of those 215 children in an unmarked grave at the former Kamloops Residential School and who never came home. I was contacted by several members of our Indigenous community to do something to recognize this.

The flag lowering at City Hall and our fire stations was a part of that. I want to thank the members of our Burlington and Halton community — particularly Eddy Robinson, Indigenous Advisory at Halton Region; Paige Saunders, Indigenous Summer Student at Halton Region; and Angela Bellegarde, Indigenous Lead at Halton’s Our Kids Network — who held a traditional prayer ceremony last week at Civic Square and for all those who have placed shoes in front of City Hall. They will stay there for the whole month of June, and donated after that.

I also heard from the community words are not enough, there needs to be action. That’s why this resolution came to Burlington City Council. This resolution would not be here without the help of Indigenous community members in Burlington and Halton.

I also want to thank all of my Council colleagues for not hesitating for a moment to hold a Special Council meeting today to get this resolution through.

Resolution on National Day of Mourning and Residential Schools (ADM-03-21)

Whereas Canada has a long and shameful history of mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples and communities, including separating children from their families and sending them to Residential Schools; and

Whereas the goal of these schools was to “take the Indian out of the child,” as promoted by Canada’s first prime minister; using punishment and abuse, as documented in the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and as expressed in the testimony of those who survived Residential Schools; and

Whereas this history is recent, with the last Residential School closing in 1996, and the lasting devastating impact continues to be felt by the families whose children were taken and the children who survived these schools; and

Whereas the remains of 215 children were recently found in a mass unmarked grave at the Kamloops Indian Residential School located in Kamloops, British Columbia; and

Whereas agencies, governments and municipalities across the country, including Burlington and all Halton municipalities, have lowered their flags in honour and memory of these children for one hour for each child taken — a total of nine days; and

Whereas Council acknowledges and supports the federal government’s decision to help fund the search for mass unmarked graves; and

Whereas Indigenous Peoples continue to suffer under outdated and non-inclusive legislation and programs that carry forward this historically unacceptable treatment into the present day and hinders the healing process; and

Whereas Burlington City Council acknowledges this process will take time and requires the support of all levels of government in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples; and

Whereas Burlington City Council, composed of municipal leaders, is committed to being a partner in this effort;

Therefore be it resolved that Burlington City Council calls on the Government of Canada to:

  • Proclaim a national day of mourning; and
  • Authorize and support an immediate search of the grounds of all former Residential Schools for additional unmarked and mass graves and a national initiative to commemorate and protect residential school burial sites across Canada through a process that must be Indigenous-led and carried out through ceremony; and
  • Continue their efforts to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, specifically Actions 71-76 regarding Missing Children and Burial Information.

And further that Burlington City Council commits to supporting the Calls to Action contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report as they relate to municipalities and as one step forward commits to holding a workshop for council and members of Burlington’s leadership team on local Indigenous history; and

That a copy of this resolution be sent to The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, Pam Damoff, MP Oakville North-Burlington, Adam Van Koeverden, MP Milton, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Six Nations of the Grand River, the Credit River Metis Council, the Grand River Metis Council and Tungasuvvingat Inuit, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Halton Region, and the Ontario Big City Mayors’ Caucus.

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1 thought on “Burlington Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling on Government Canada to Proclaim a National Day of Mourning for Victims of Residential Schools”

  1. Robert Orszulik

    I fully support and applaud the resolution passed by Burlington City Council, and would furthermore urge the Council to cancel Canada Day celebrations in light of this horrific discovery and ongoing tragedy. It is not the time to celebrate our nation’s birthday, and would be insensitive to the current national mood.

    Sincerely,

    Robert Orszulik.

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Marianne Meed Ward

Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

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