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MP REPORT: Government must fund searches for graves at residential schools

By Randall Garrison
Randall Garrison is the MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. (Photo courtesy of Randall Garrison)

By Randall Garrison

Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP

As the parliamentary session comes to an end, I am reflecting on what it means to represent the people of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. I am proud of the work that my NDP colleagues and I were able to do in Parliament this year, and I am eager to continue to work to improve the lives of Canadians. This has been a challenging year for everyone, and I have never been prouder of the resilience and solidarity of the people I represent.

With the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools reverberating, I am renewing my calls for the federal government to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, especially those that call directly for the federal government to fully fund searches and the return of remains. Despite the fact that the TRC clearly indicated the existence of thousands of unmarked graves at residential schools across Canada when it was released in 2015, the most recent searches have been funded by First Nations. As Indigenous people grapple with the trauma and loss inflicted by genocidal policies like residential schools, we must move beyond the symbolic and provide action and reparations.

ALSO READ: Survivor of B.C. residential school breaking silence and calling for action

This year, COVID-19 has continued to cause multiple challenges for my constituents. I have heard from many of those who were worried about the CERB or other benefits ending before they could return to work. I have heard from others who are navigating border closures and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I am proud to have worked hard to press the Liberal government to extend the CERB, ensuring that my constituents who work in heavily affected sectors like tourism and hospitality can be kept whole during this challenging time. I will continue to advocate for the measures we need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support for Canadians who cannot work or are otherwise struggling.

As wildfires rage in the interior and we deal with the impacts of late June’s deadly heatwave on southern Vancouver Island, it is clearer than ever that we must take swift and decisive action to reduce our GHG emissions. I will continue to press for the federal government to end all fossil fuel subsidies and reinvest in renewables through a Crown corporation, among other measures to reduce our emissions and build resilience for extreme weather events.

ALSO READ: Federal NDP looks to criminalize domestic emotional abuse with new law

With the end of session comes increasing rumors that the Liberal government will call an election before the fall session convenes. New Democrats do not believe that Canadians want an election less than two years into the current mandate, during a pandemic. We are also concerned that important legislation like Bill C-6, a ban on conversion therapy, would die with the election call.

This summer, I am looking forward to spending more time in our community meeting with constituents, as B.C.’s reopening plan continues to move forward.

Randall Garrison is the MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.


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