The BC Government is taking its next step towards addressing the longstanding impacts of residential schools.

Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation announced some more details surrounding the $12 million allocated to support First Nations throughout BC and investigative former residential school sites.

There were 18 Indian Residential Schools and three Indian Hospitals in BC, and communities that stand nearby these former school sites are called ‘Caretaker Communities’.

“As of today (Tuesday), caretaker communities can access provincial funding to advance their work at residential schools and hospital sites. We will fast-track funding requests so that caretaker communities can plan and do this work at their own pace,” explained Rankin.

Each caretaker community can receive up to $475,000 for each site, as needed, to support it through the steps of planning and carrying out site work.

Rankin ensures that this will not be a process that is slowed down by a bureaucracy, as the funding will be easily accessible and flexible.

“The funding from British Columbia can be made available for a range of activities, work-related to site searches, planning, technical work, archival research, engaging with elders, knowledge keepers and survivors, engaging with other communities that have an interest in the site,” explained Rankin.

He says the government acknowledges how emotionally triggering this work can be, and the funding will also support the mental health and wellness of survivors and their families by going towards mental health and cultural supports.

$2 million of the $12 million is being targeted to expand culturally safe, trauma-informed services and supports such as crisis lines and survivor support networks.

Additionally, the province has appointed Charlene Belleau, chair of the First Nations Health Council and Lydia Hwitsum as First Nations liaisons to bring experience, relationships, and expertise needed to advance this work.

“The provision of these funds for immediate use by First Nations in the aftermath of discoveries of remains at residential school sites is an important first step in supporting the resiliency and healing of B.C. First Nations people,” said Belleau. “We acknowledge our B.C. government partners for this effort, as our communities honour the spirit of these lost children.”