The City requests the publication of all files related to the Mohawk Institute

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The city is calling on the federal and provincial governments and the Anglican Church to release all documents related to the former Mohawk Institute residential school.

Com. Joshua Wall received unanimous support for a resolution calling for the documentation to be turned over to the Survivor Secretariat, an organization run by survivors from Six Nations of the Grand River dedicated to “uncovering, documenting and sharing the truth about this what happened” at the school, which operated from 1831 to 1970.

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“We are placed in this position of authority and privilege and together we could use it to help,” Wall said at a special council meeting on Tuesday.

Mayor Kevin Davis said the city opened its archives last month and researchers spent two days extracting all information, including documents and maps, related to the boarding school.

“We implore the federal and provincial governments to do the same,” Davis said.

After it was suggested by Coun. Dan McCreary of the Anglican Church, which operated the Mohawk Institute, was added to the city’s call for the release of the documents.

The search for unmarked graves of children who were forced to attend the Mohawk Street residential school officially began in November 2021. Ground-penetrating radar is being used to search the vast grounds, along with technology known as lidar, which determines ranges by targeting an object with a laser and measuring the time it takes for the reflected light to return to the receiver, detecting changes in the ground.

Eventually 600 acres will be excavated in and around the old schoolhouse, taking at least two years to cover.

In May 2021, ground-penetrating radar detected what are believed to be the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the site of the former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. A month later, the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan revealed a similar find of more than 700 unmarked children. graves on the site of a former boarding school.

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Kimberly Murray, executive director of the Survivor’s Secretariat, which oversees search efforts, said earlier this year that they continue to await the release of records related to the Mohawk Institute, including some 1,400 records – statements from survivors, correspondence and documentation related to the operation of the school: “especially the names of the children” forced to attend the school — from the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation.

Murray said the Survivor Secretariat is “grateful to the City of Brantford for supporting and advocating for our mandate to create a community archive by collecting all related records from governments, churches and other institutions known to have been involved in the operations of the Mohawk Institute.

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued 94 calls to action, urging all levels of government to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to right the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation. Thirteen of the calls to action are directed at municipal governments.

Three Mohawk Institute alumni addressed councilors Tuesday ahead of their vote. Among them was Geronimo Henry, who was taken from his family at the age of six in 1942 and remained at school until 1953.

“They took my culture and my language and my own way of believing,” Henry said. “They called us savages, pagans and filthy Indians. “It still affects me today.”

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Mohawk Institute survivor Diane Hill said “to uncover the truth, we all have to work together.”

“You lead by action,” Hill told advisers. “You are showing other municipalities that it can be done.”

Maria Visocchi, Brantford’s director of communications, said that to the knowledge of the city and the Survivor Secretariat, Brantford is the first municipality to ask the federal and provincial governments and the Anglican Church to release residential school records.

In the hope that others will do the same, Brantford’s resolution will be forwarded to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for distribution to all municipalities in Ontario, especially those located in the Haldimand Tract, including counties of Brant and Haldimand, the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo and the region of Waterloo.

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