The Survivors’ Secretariat welcomed the Community and invited guests to a Year in Review open house which included the introduction of Laura Arndt as the Secretariat Lead, “I am honoured and humbled to join the Survivors’ Secretariat and lead the work of truth finding into what happened at the Mohawk Institute.” The Year in Review focused on Research and Document Collection, Ground Search Efforts, Community Accountability and Advocacy efforts tied to supporting and providing oversight of the Police Investigation and Statement Gathering Process.
Know History historical services is guiding the Secretariat’s document collection and records research. To date, 6,705 records have been accessed, with 2,526 of those documents coming from National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) and the remainder located through archival research by the Know History team. “We take this responsibility very seriously. The work is difficult, and accessing the documents held by colonial institutions can be challenging, but it is worth the effort to ensure that the story is told from the Survivors’ perspective,”, says Ryan Shackleton, Know History’s CEO. Through Know History’s research, the Secretariat has identified 4,581 names of children who attended the Mohawk Institute, 725 names of people who worked at the Institute in some capacity, and a total of 97 deaths. The number of deaths recorded to date is more than double the number originally identified by the NCTR. The Secretariat is working to determine proper protocols to inform families and communities prior to releasing the lists of names and document sources on their website.
As of August 23, 2022, the Secretariat has completed Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) scanning of 387 – 10×10 metre grids. This represents approximately 1.5% of the total area to be searched. Additionally, the City of Brantford has provided LiDAR scans of the associated grounds. With all this data, the Secretariat has begun to widen its focus and has started to work with a small group of people in the geophysics community to map out a path forward to interpret the data collected while continuing to scan additional areas at the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School.
In terms of advocacy, the Secretariat has worked with several organizations in Six Nations and across the province to support commemoration activities. Recently, the Secretariat worked with the City of Brantford to secure a resolution which was unanimously supported by their city council to urge the provincial and federal government along with the Anglican and Catholic Church to release all records pertaining to Indian Residential Schools to their appropriate bodies. This resolution has since been supported by Wainfleet and Shuniah municipalities. The Secretariat will be launching a restart with the Police Taskforce in September and encourages Survivors wishing to provide information about potential unmarked burials or missing children to contact the tipline at 1-888-523-8587. Alternatively Survivors can drop off their written stories in a locked mailbox at their new head office located at 2676 Fourth Line Rd.