Alberta’s government is providing $8 million to support community-led research across the province to research undocumented deaths and burials in residential schools.
The Alberta Residential Schools Community Research Grant is open to Indigenous communities and groups that will lead the research into the tragic legacy of Canada’s residential school program in Alberta.
“All Albertans stand with Indigenous communities across the country who live with the legacy of Canada’s residential school program,” Jason Kenney, Premier said. “The devastating discovery of 215 human remains in Kamloops has been a call to action. A great deal of work has been done by First Nations and others to help identify remains and undocumented burial sites, but there is much more work that still needs to be done. Alberta’s government is committed to assisting Indigenous communities identify and commemorate these sites, in the spirit of reconciliation.”
Grant funding will be available to Indigenous communities and organizations for the following purposes:
- Community-driven research, including gathering oral histories and knowledge of elders (as appropriate).
- Community-led engagement to determine how communities wish to proceed with a burial site.
- Use of ground-penetrating radar and other technologies to explore potential unmarked burial sites.
- Partnering with experts experienced in locating human burials.
- Maintenance and commemorative work, such as installation or restoration of grave markers, placement of memorials or commemoration events.
More residential schools operated in Alberta than in other provinces or territories. Twenty-five federally funded and church-run residential schools were open at various times between 1872 and 1975.
“Today’s announcement of the community research grant is a much-needed step as part of the reconciliation process regarding the legacy of residential schools in Alberta,” Chief Marlene Poitras, regional chief, Assembly of First Nations Alberta Association said. “I am glad to see the province working in partnership with First Nations to heal the atrocities of the past and work on bringing our lost children back home where they belong. Partnering and working together is key to advancing reconciliation. Through this grant, families will be able to research grave burial sites and gain closure as part of their individual grieving processes. While there is still much work ahead, this is a positive step forward and I commend the actions taken today.”
Communities and organizations can work together to submit a research proposal for a single residential school site. Individual applications can receive up to a maximum of $150,000.
Applications are now available and will be accepted until Jan. 15, 2022.