Unmarked graves: Lawmakers should act now, Murray says
Ahead of the release of her interim report on progress as Canada’s special interlocutor on unmarked graves at former residential schools, Kimberly Murray says lawmakers at all levels of government shouldn’t be waiting for her findings to act.
Citing examples of gaps she’s already identified, such as the drawn-out process to obtain records and the various approvals needed to access privately-owned land for ceremonies and searches, Murray said there’s a lot that governments could be doing now, as she continues her work.
“I speak a little bit about this in the interim report, about some of the things like waiving fees for records for communities to be able to access information,” Murray told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos in an interview. “We don’t need to wait to the end of my mandate to make some changes and put some things in place.”
A series of devastating discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential schools in Canada over the last two years reinvigorated calls to action. This prompted the federal government to appoint Murray to work with Indigenous people and make recommendations to strengthen federal laws and practices to protect and preserve unmarked burial sites.
Murray was also asked to help Indigenous communities weave through jurisdictional and legal hurdles at burial sites, and facilitate dialogue with relevant governments and institutions, including churches. Murray’s appointment also included plans to address issues around the identification and protection of unmarked graves, including the repatriation of remains.
Murray is set to table an interim report on her progress on June 16, marking a year since she assumed the role.
She told Kapelos that her coming report will highlight additional areas of concern identified by survivors and communities about the barriers they’re facing in trying to find their children, from costs associated with accessing documentation, to the need for legislative reform.
“It shouldn’t take 50 years to find out where your child is buried,” Murray said. “And we write about a couple of examples in our interim report that’s coming out.”
“It’s just terrible that families are having to go through this to determine what happened to their child,” she said.
Watch the full interview with Murray, in the video player above.