EDITORIAL – ‘Answers are still needed’ on Canada’s residential schools

(Video: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

‘ANSWERS ARE STILL NEEDED,’ Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir told those gathered yesterday at the Pow Wow Arbour to mark the anniversary of an event that brought attention around the world to the sad history of residential schools in Canada.

That event, of course, was the announcement of the discovery of what may be as many as 215 gravesites on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. That number has since been adjusted to 200 but they’re still referred to as “the 215” or “the missing.”

The presence of Governor-General Mary Simon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin attested to the importance of the ceremonies.

Though the day-long activities brought many reminders of the tragic legacies of the past, there was also a strong sense of resiliency about it. “My hope is for reconciliation and I’m going to hold on to that hope,” said the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc chief.

It’s often said that without truth, there can be no reconciliation, and there’s a lot of work to be done in that respect. That work is getting underway with the resumption of a ground-penetrating radar study of the school grounds.

That means there could be more unhappy discoveries but it’s part of the search for truth. There’s much discussion about the need for excavation work to be done in order to find out for certain whether those “disturbances,” as they’re called, do indeed contain human remains. When that step will be taken isn’t known.

Should confirmation be achieved through exhumation, identification will be long and difficult. How, after all, could 215 (or 200) kids disappear into unmarked graves?

And, should all the necessary records and information be brought out, what then? What actions will be needed in order for us to move forward as a country?

“Reparations” were mentioned Monday, but the exact form of those reparations remains a work in progress.

As was acknowledged yesterday, many answers are still needed.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9652 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – ‘Answers are still needed’ on Canada’s residential schools

  1. Perhaps the path to reconciliation is a new museum in Victoria. An homage to their members, with a name and exhibits to suit their plight, culture and history. But I remember just last week the critics were out in full force over that one…

  2. Families and First Nations should ask Ottawa to demand that the Vatican and its network pay recompense or forfeit their holdings in Canada, with proceeds going to native welfare, education, housing and health .

  3. This is a national, cultural, and human disgrace, and I sincerely hope that the current tendency to blame it on Sir John A. MacDonald will give way to the hard facts that the Catholic Priests were the perpetrators, and they and their entire hierarchical structure of sin absolution were little more than a sop to conscience and a church-guaranteed method of cleansing the soul while protecting the rapists and sodomizers,

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