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Residential school records released day before archbishop testifies at Senate

OTTAWA — A Catholic archdiocese that includes parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario released long-awaited residential schools records this week.

The news comes as religious leaders face accusations they are keeping information about the largely church-run institutions secret.

Archbishop Murray Chatlain says the Keewatin-Le Pas archdiocese gave the documents to the Winnipeg-based National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation on Monday.

That was one day before his testimony at a Senate committee that is studying the withholding of records.

Chatlain says an archdiocese staff member found a box of files containing some residential school lists in 2021, and they agreed to digitize the records in consultation with the national centre.

But he says copies had been shared only with a local historical society to date, and the records didn’t make their way to the centre until Monday.

A report from Kimberly Murray, Ottawa’s special interlocutor for missing children and unmarked graves, said this summer that some governments and churches continue to withhold records about residential schools and associated sites.

Senators have been hearing from experts and pressing religious leaders on why that is the case, and why some residential school staff members who are still alive haven’t been made available to share details about their experiences.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 7, 2023.

The Canadian Press