Wednesday, June 8, 2022

For those presently in need of support during these trying times, the IBA urges you to contact the Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, or the Indigenous Residential School Survivors’ Society at 1-800-721-0066.

OTTAWA, ONT – Please join the Indigenous Bar Association in Canada (the “IBA”) in celebrating Kimberly Murray’s (IPC) appointment as the Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools. A member of the Kahnesatake Mohawk Nation, Ms. Murray has persistently worked towards justice for Indigenous Peoples, and specifically ensuring Residential School Survivors were heard and remembered. She was most recently the Executive Lead for the Survivors’ Secretariat at the Six Nations of the Grand River, working to recover the missing children and unmarked burials at the Mohawk Institute. Kimberly was also the Executive Director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (“TRC”) from 2010 to 2015.

Ms. Murray served as Ontario’s first ever Assistant Deputy Attorney General for Indigenous Justice, where she was responsible for creating a unit to work with Indigenous communities on revitalizing their Indigenous laws and legal orders. Kimberly was also the executive director of Aboriginal Legal Services where she has appeared before all levels of courts and numerous inquests and inquiries on Aboriginal legal issues.

The IBA is proud of Ms. Murray and her many accolades, including the Dianne Martin Medal for Social Justice Through Law, the City of Toronto’s Aboriginal Affairs Access, Equity and Human Rights Award, the Law Foundation’s Guthrie Award, the Law Society of Ontario’s Laura Legge Award, the 2017 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Law and Justice, and the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal of Distinction in Public Administration. With her years of experience working with Indigenous communities and Residential School Survivors, we know she will do this work with love and integrity.

The IBA stands with the many communities who continue to grieve for the countless Indigenous children stolen and victimized by Canada’s residential “school” system. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (“NCTR”) and the TRC have confirmed the identities of 4,117 Indigenous children that died due to the neglect and abuse they experienced in residential “schools”. The NCTR estimates that closer to 6,000 lives of innocent Indigenous children have been lost from these horrific institutions. The recognition of these unmarked graves allows for greater understanding of the appalling truth which has been too long overlooked. IBA President Drew Lafond says “We are hopeful that the appointment of a Special Interlocutor facilitates a respectful and productive relationship with Indigenous communities and all levels of government in Canada.”

For Indigenous Peoples, this process of (re)uncovery is replete with many painful reminders of how First Nation, Inuit, and Métis Peoples have been—and continue to be—injured and marginalized by colonialism. Ms. Murray’s appointment is the start of a crucial opportunity to move toward a new legal framework and collective understanding of the Indigenous children who were stolen from their families and never returned home. “The IBA is eternally grateful to Kimberly Murray for taking on this challenging and critical role, and we are excited to support her in achieving important strides toward reconciliation in Canada. We are confident that she will excel in this role, and that Indigenous voices will be listened to, amplified, and validated throughout this process” said IBA President Drew Lafond.

The IBA is the only national association of Indigenous lawyers (practicing and non-practicing), legal academics and scholars, articling clerks and law students, including graduate and post-graduate law students and paralegals in Canada. The IBA’s mandate includes, inter alia, advocating for the recognition of Indigenous laws, legal traditions, protocols and process; promoting the reform of policies and laws affecting Indigenous peoples in Canada; and fostering public awareness within the legal community in respect of legal and social issues of concern to Indigenous peoples in Canada