The Catholic religious order that operated residential schools in Saskatchewan and British Columbia where hundreds of unmarked graves have been found says it will disclose all historical documents in its possession.
The Missionary of Oblates of Mary Immaculate operated 48 schools, including the Marieval Indian Residential School in the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan and the Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C.
On Thursday, the Cowessess First Nation announced the preliminary discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School.
The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation said last month a preliminary scan had detected the remains of an estimated 215 children near the former residential school in Kamloops.
The news sparked public outcry for full transparency from clergy involved in the residential school system.
The religious group had previously said it would release records pertaining to the institution in Kamloops, but Thursday’s statement marked a “formal committal” to disclose records from all schools with which it was involved.
“We remain deeply sorry for our involvement in residential schools and the harms they brought to Indigenous peoples and communities,” said a statement.
Indigenous leaders and others have been calling for the release of all documents related to residential schools.
In the statement, the oblates said they have worked to make historical documents available through universities, archives and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
They said the work is not complete because of complications with provincial and national privacy laws. They asked for guidance from organizations familiar with those laws.
“We further acknowledge that delays can cause ongoing distrust, distress and trauma to Indigenous peoples across British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the rest of the country,” the statement said.
The oblates said they won’t block access to historical documents they have. They also committed to seeking guidance from First Nations and governments.
“We will work with bishops and other leaders in the Catholic Church to support full truth in these matters.”