Open letter to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

The Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Dear Minister,

Congratulations on your appointment as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. The responsibility trusted in you will be critical to moving forward in our reconciliation efforts as treaty people.

I am writing to you on behalf of more than 230,000 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, including federal government employees and your constituents, to urge the federal government to intensify its efforts in searching all former residential school sites and surrounding areas using ground penetrating radar to find unmarked graves.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a stark reminder of the Indigenous children who were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools across Canada. These children, known as Le Estcwicwéy̓ (The Missing), suffered unimaginable horrors, and many lost their lives. It is your duty to properly uncover the truth of the genocide and to honour their memory.

Your government’s commitment of $320 million to help Indigenous communities search burial sites at former residential schools, and support survivors and their communities, is a modest start. But we both know it’s not nearly enough to do the work that’s needed.

An estimated 1,967 gravesites have been found using radar technology, but only 11 residential school sites have been searched to date. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society estimates there are more than 10,000 children in unmarked burial sites at residential schools and Indian hospitals across the country, which means we still have a long way to go to uncover all the lost lives of Le Estcwicwéy̓.

Your appointment is an opportunity to significantly amplify and accelerate the necessary and critical work that must be done. I urge your government to expand the search to all former residential school sites using ground penetrating radar, and to implement Calls to Action 71-76 in Volume 4 of the TRC Final Report: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials. This will ensure there are no financial barriers to returning children who were killed in residential schools to their communities without further delay. The communities and families have already suffered enough.

Together, we must uncover the truth of Le Estcwicwéy̓, honour their memory, and take concrete steps towards reconciliation.


Chris Aylward, National President
Public Service Alliance of Canada

cc: The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister  


September 28, 2023