BC Residential School Response Fund

B.C. is committed to supporting First Nations-led strategies to investigate, protect and commemorate the sites of former Indian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals in B.C. and providing the mental health, wellness and cultural supports required to do this in a safe, supportive and culturally appropriate way. 

Last updated: January 6, 2022

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Content warning: This web page contains information related to residential schools. Support is available for anyone who has been affected by residential schools.

If you need emotional or crisis support, contact the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 or access a crisis support.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission set out approaches to commemorate the history and lasting legacy of the residential school system. This included Calls to Action specific to missing children, residential school cemeteries, and unmarked burials.

73.

We call upon the federal government to work with churches, Aboriginal communities, and former residential school students to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including, where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children.

74.

We call upon the federal government to work with the churches and Aboriginal community leaders to inform the families of children who died at residential schools of the child's burial location, and to respond to families' wishes for appropriate commemoration ceremonies and markers, and reburial in home communities where requested.

75.

We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.

76.

We call upon the parties engaged in the work of documenting, maintaining, commemorating, and protecting residential school cemeteries to adopt strategies in accordance with the following principles:

  • The Aboriginal community most affected shall lead the development of such strategies.
  • Information shall be sought from residential school Survivors and other Knowledge Keepers in the development of such strategies.
  • Aboriginal protocols shall be respected before any potentially invasive technical inspection and investigation of a cemetery site.

These Calls to Action continue to guide the Province in its response to work on the sites of former Indian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals throughout BC.  

The Truth and Reconciliation Report, Volume 4,  “Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials” 2016 can be found at: https://nctr.ca/records/reports/

Funding for work at former Indian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals

The BC Residential School Response Fund (the fund) supports lead communities to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried.

The fund is available to support activities on the sites of former Indian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals. Up to $475,000 is available for each site.

Funding is available for:

  • Mental health and wellness and clinical supports
  • Traditional wellness and cultural supports
  • Archival research
  • Engagement with Elders, knowledge-keepers, survivors, intergenerational survivors and families
  • Engagement with First Nations, local governments and landowners
  • Procurement of technical expertise
  • Communication supports
  • Training and capacity development
  • Planning and project management supports
  • Policy development

The fund complements the federal funding available through the Residential Schools Missing Children - Community Support Funding. The Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation (MIRR) is working with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) to coordinate funding supports. The partners are taking a ‘no wrong door’ approach by working with communities in a coordinated way to meet their needs.

There is no application deadline. MIRR will work with lead communities on an ongoing basis to make sure resources are available to support site-specific work when ready.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission


Funding eligibility

The fund is open to all First Nations or Tribal Councils with a former Indian Residential School or Indian Hospital site located in or near their community and who have been identified as the lead community or coordinating body to undertake site-specific work.

B.C. will work collaboratively with communities on a site-by-site basis to assess needs and provide the necessary supports. This could include exploring other funding opportunities that may be available to advance projects not eligible for the BC Residential School Fund.

There is no direct funding for individuals or service providers.


Application process

To apply, lead communities are asked to write and submit a statement of intent. It may include:

  • Information about a residential school or hospital site
  • Description of key activities or deliverables
  • Proposed budget plan
  • Proposed timeline
  • Services or supports required

Download application templateThe use of the template is optional.

Where possible, lead communities are invited to submit a single proposal to MIRR and CIRNAC for joint review.

Send your completed statement of intent by email to residentialschoolsresponse@gov.bc.ca .


First Nations liaisons

The Province has appointed Charlene Belleau and Lydia Hwitsum as First Nations liaisons to advise and assist in the provincial response. 

The liaisons will:

  • Assist First Nations in accessing funding support from the B.C. government
  • Provide advice to the B.C. government on the response to residential school and hospital sites throughout B.C.
  • Act as a communications link between communities that have residential school or hospital sites

The liaisons are ready to assist at the request of communities. You can contact the liaisons by email:  residentialschoolsresponse@gov.bc.ca.

Mental Health and Wellness Supports

The Province has provided funding to Indigenous service providers to address the increased need for culturally safe and trauma-informed mental health and wellness supports for residential school survivors and their families. This includes: