Port Alberni, BC — Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief RoseAnne Archibald was honoured to be a witness, in-person with Tseshaht First Nation Tuesday as they announced phase one findings of suspected unmarked graves on the former site of the Alberni Indian Residential Institution.
“We must never lose our sense of urgency when we hear these announcements and the stories of Survivors,” said National Chief Archibald. “These are 67 student deaths they identified. 67 little ones who deserve to be named and given proper ceremony in their respective homelands.”
“I also commend the Survivors who brought several former staff to justice when they testified about the sexual abuse they suffered while attending the Alberni Institution,” continued National Chief Archibald. “They were instrumental in bringing about Canada’s $2.8 billion settlement for all Survivors across Turtle Island.”
National Chief Archibald commits to advocating and working with fellow leadership in advancing the Calls for Truth + Justice stated by Chief Councillor Ken Watts, including: Creating space for Survivors with the Special Interlocutor engagement; and Ensuring the Special Interlocutor can make free and unfiltered recommendations based on First Nations and Survivor input into the final report.
“Anytime a community requests my presence, I’ll always be there to support them and their calls for justice,” concluded National Chief Archibald, who continues to advocate for a National Healing Fund that will begin to deal with the intergenerational trauma that reverberates every day in our First Nations communities.
Please be reminded that if this news activates grief or difficult emotions, the IRS Crisis line is a national, 24-hour toll-free support service operated by trained Indigenous crisis counsellors. To talk to someone, please call 1-866-925-4419.
Andrew St. Germain
Office of the National Chief