Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc facing crucial decisions as unmarked grave investigation continues

Click to play video: 'Tk’emlúps Te Secwépemc Nation looks to chart way forward' Tk’emlúps Te Secwépemc Nation looks to chart way forward
The Tk'emlúps Te Secwépemc is welcoming the appointment of a federal Interlocutor who will help the First Nations government navigate a complex, legal, cultural and ethical world after the confirmation of suspected unmarked graves in 2021. Kamil Karamali reports – Jun 11, 2022

A somber anniversary in late May, marked one year since the detection of suspected unmarked graves near a former Kamloops residential school. For many, the shadows found by ground-penetrating radar confirmed their worst fears.

Now the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc face some tough decisions, such as how to respectfully exhume potential remains.

“Not only is it our own people that are asking questions but it’s also non-Indigenous as well,” said Chief Rosanne Casimir. “It’s also about creating that path with the utmost respect, honour and dignity.”

Read more: ‘Tip of the iceberg’: 6 potential unmarked graves found near former Pine Creek residential school

This week, the federal government appointed Kimberly Murray, former executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as the special interlocutor on unmarked graves. Her role is to help with jurisdictional, legal and cultural hurdles with several sites discovered across the country.

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“Each site because of where they’re located will have different barriers in unique challenges. When they’re doing the work, when they are doing the search, what laws will be triggered?” Murray said. “When they find (remains), who gets called in, and who doesn’t and which Indigenous laws will apply.”

Read more: Ottawa appoints interlocutor to help protect residential school grave sites

One thing that is known, Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc are under the spotlight as the country watches how they’ll proceed including other Indigenous communities, who will look to possibly follow in their steps.

“We all have our traditional and cultural protocols, depending on where and which community we are from,” said Casimir. “There will be a focus on identifying the children and their cause of death.”

Murray takes on her new role Tuesday and Casimir expects her in Kamloops before the end of the month.

Click to play video: 'B.C. residential school survivor shares her story for first time' B.C. residential school survivor shares her story for first time
B.C. residential school survivor shares her story for first time – May 27, 2022

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