Statement from Andrea Horwath

Ontario’s Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement in response to the horrific discovery of hundreds of children in unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school near the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan:

“These precious children, and many others across the country, should have lived full lives. Every child matters. And their children and grandchildren should be here today. Residential schools erased generations. It is genocide. It is a crime against humanity.

Our hearts are with the Cowessess First Nation members and all Indigenous people who are hurting from this latest, devastating discovery. But words and condolences are not enough, and never should have been. Action is long overdue.

I strongly support the call from Sol Mamakwa to all churches and governments to release any records related to residential schools. The search for unmarked graves is of critical importance, and much be Indigenous led — but if there are records that could aid the search and ease the unbearable pain and trauma, there is no acceptable reason on earth to withhold them.

I also echo Sol Mamakwa’s critical call for immediate implementation of the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Our neighbours are still denied water that’s safe to drink or decent living conditions. They’re denied equitable access to health care, including mental health supports despite the heartbreaking number of youth suicides. First Nations children still don’t have equitable access to education, and are dramatically overrepresented in the child welfare system.

Ontario has the power to act on all of these things, but has chosen not to. The time for words alone is over. It’s time for action.”

Andrea Horwath