The British Columbia government has appointed two liaisons who will work with First Nations with former Indian residential schools and Indian hospital sites.
Charlene Belleau and Lydia Hwitsum will support caretaker communities and work to link those communities with provincial and federal agencies. There were 18 Indian residential schools and three Indian hospitals in B.C.
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Belleau is the former Chief of Esk’etemc First Nation and former chair of the First Nations Health Council.
“Today, we stand with former students, survivors, intergenerational survivors and their families,” Belleau said in a statement. “We are ready to support communities as they do the difficult work of honouring the spirits of the children who never came home. I am pleased to take on this role and support leaders, former students of residential schools and their families in their journey to bring truth, justice and healing.”
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Hwitsum is a citizen of the Cowichan Nation and the former chair of the First Nations Health Authority.
The province also said a $12-million fund to support work at former residential care sites is open for submissions.
Each caretaker community can receive up to $475,000 to support efforts to identify, investigate, document, maintain, protect and/or commemorate sites where remains may be located, as well as to support the well-being of survivors and family members.
“The province will fast-track the review of these requests to make sure communities are able to access these resources when they are ready to undertake work at sites,” the province said in a statement.
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