When the Ontario government released The Journey Together, its response to the TRC Calls to Action, a significant focus was on educating all Ontarians regarding the legacy of Residential Schools. This responded directly to Calls to Action 62 to 65. The Journey Together committed up to $20 million over three years to educate Canadians concerning the history and legacy of Residential Schools. New commitments towards this end include restoring Mohawk Institute in Brantford Ontario, the construction of a commemorative structure in Toronto, and creating an anti-racism strategy informed by Indigenous peoples.
Restoring Mohawk Institute
Mohawk Institute is one of the few Residential Schools still standing in Ontario, but it was falling into disrepair. The community at Six Nations and the staff at Woodland Cultural Centre, who manage the former Mohawk Institute, initiated a grassroots campaign called “Save the Evidence” to raise funds to preserve Mohawk Institute “to ensure the physical evidence of the dark history of Residential Schools in Canada is never forgotten.”
In response to The Journey Together, the Ontario government committed $10 million over three years to restore Mohawk Institute and transform it into an interpretation centre.
Residential Schools Legacy Structure
Responding to TRC Call for Action #82, the Ontario government has established a partnership with Toronto Council Fire native Cultural Centre and met with Survivors of Residential Schools to design a reflective and commemorative monument. An artist has been commissioned to develop this design, which is in process. The government is currently considering the design and potential locations in Toronto for this structure.
Missing Children, Burials, and Residential Schools Records
In The Journey Together, the Ontario government committed to “provide death and other relevant records of “lost children” who attended residential schools to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and work with the federal government and Indigenous communities to find cemeteries and burial sites on residential school properties. Remains will be returned to Indigenous communities when requested and/or memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers will be arranged.”
The Archives of Ontario is currently leading project that are currently ongoing, as guided by the research staff at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), housed in the University of Manitoba. search of its record holdings to identify the relevant documentation of the Residential School system. Digitized copies of the relevant records will be provided to the NCTR. This completed project will be completed by the 2018-19 fiscal year. In 2016-17, the Archives of Ontario completed a “high-level analysis” of government and private record groups within the archives. In this coming fiscal year the archives staff will conduct a physical search of the archives and digitize relevant records, ultimately transferring these digitized records to NCTR in 2018-19. This was done at the cost of $58,000.
Concerning locating Residential School burial sites and cemeteries, the TRC working group could not complete its work before the end of its mandate. The project to locate these burial sites is being led by the Settlement Agreement Branch at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), and they indicated that they are in the early stages of a national strategy. MIRR has informed COO that they were considering starting this work in Ontario as of February 2017. They will complete their work, as guided by First Nations, through non-invasive approaches such as community engagement, surface examination, aerial photography, ground penetrating radar, and geo-mapping.