Residential school children transferred to hospitals, sanatoriums lead to multiple traumas for former students

Former students at residential schools who were transferred from schools into hospitals or sanatoriums were likely subjected to multiple institution-driven trauma.

This from the Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Grave and Burial Sites, Kimberly Murray, as she spoke to APTN earlier this week.

“These entities and organizations that operated the Indian residential schools and the federal hostels, were also operating the hospitals and were in the other types of institutions, the sanitoria and the reformatories,” said Murray.

“So, those same things that happened to the children in the residential schools , were happening to them when they got sent to these other institutions. I think that’s part of the history and the truth that is really starting to come out now that the TRC didn’t talk about.”

Murray told APTN that she believes that the discovery is one of the further facets of truth that Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not explore during their limited time of investigating the Indian Residential Schools of Canada.

Murray said that people were familiar with the transferring of children to Indian hospitals but now they are looking also at youth detention centres and sanatoriums where students were transferred back and forth and what might have happened to the students who fell into that cycle.

Murray says that she expects more information about the multi-level traumas that Indigenous children were subjected to in the residential school system similar to this will emerge as her work begins to uncover more records.

Murray is now six months into a two year mandate, after being appointed by the federal government as the Special Interlocutor.

Murray says that delays and not getting access to records has been one of the biggest challenges for the work investigating the missing children and unmarked graves. There is also a struggle to get people onto the lands where there may be graves located. They are also concerned with a lack of funding for mental well being for indigenous people as they begin to process the trauma of the unmarked graves being recovered.

Murray also spoke about the Mohawk mothers who went to court to put an injunction on McGill university to halt construction as they look for unmarked graves around the grounds of the former sanatorium that was located on the university property, saying that the important work of her team is to make recommendations on how Canada can change its legal framework to respond ethically when concerns about unmarked graves are raised by indigenous groups.

Murray says there are currently 88 organizations that have received funding to examine grounds and begin investigations to search for unmarked graves while there were 146 former residential schools in Canada.


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