N.B. Indigenous leaders meet with premier to discuss plans for searching former 'day school' sites
FREDERICTON -- Following the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a residential school in Kamloops, B.C., New Brunswick Indigenous leaders are working with the provincial government to survey the sites of their former "Indian day schools."
"We need to reconcile what's happened in the past and we need to build a future together and all the conversation was very real, very personal," said Premier Blaine Higgs.
More than 10 Chiefs and Elders of New Brunswick’s First Nations spoke with the Premier on Thursday.
Barry LaBillois, who is the president and Chief of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council, took part.
"We talked about the day school down in Sussex. Not only that, we talked about that we have to have some type of recognition down there a plaque or something that this is where it is also work has to be done down there to sit back and say ok are there kids down here as well," LaBillois said. "It's important that we talk about the day schools that happened on the reserve as well and let the general public know of the issues that are out there."
The University of New Brunswick's history department is hoping to contribute resources to any Indigenous communities looking for archival information.
"We really just wanted to break down a barrier between a colonial institution like the university and to use our networks as a way to assist Indigenous communities in work that's already going on," said Dr. Erin Morton.
First Nations will be working with the province on next steps of bringing Indigenous history to light.
"(We're making) kind of a list of what they'd like to see, how we recognize the situation, how we make awareness, and how we move on from here so that's the next step is the request made there they wanted to formalize that to us so we all can understand how do we do this right and that's where we're headed is to do this right," said Higgs.
Higgs says there will be an investigation into 12 sites that were identified to determine whether there are unmarked graves.