Delorme named chair of new Residential School Documents Advisory Committee

The chief of a Saskatchewan First Nation will add to his responsibilities after he was named the first-ever chair of the new Residential School Documents Advisory Committee earlier this week.

Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme was appointed to the role by National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) executive director Stephanie Scott and federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Marc Miller Tuesday morning.

"There were over 130 sponsored Residential Schools in this country. Today, many local communities, ad-hoc committees and First Nations are leading the way in the validation of unmarked graves attached to former Residential Schools,” he said. “This advisory committee's goal will help by empowering the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to house records many are seeking to help in their healing journey."

In December 2021, Miller issued a directive to his department to establish a committee that would develop recommendations on the identification and sharing of documents of historical interest with the NCTR.

The Residential School Documents Advisory Committee is the result of this direction. The committee will be composed of survivors, First Nations, Inuit and Métis community members, and federal and expert representatives.

As chair of the Residential School Documents Advisory Committee, Delorme’s mandate is to promote consensus-based decision-making and ensure Indigenous voices are reflected in discussions and decisions regarding the identification, review and sharing of Residential School-related documents.

Scott said Delorme’s leadership since the first unmarked graves were discovered in 2021 at former Residential School sites has been key.

"In 2021, Cowessess First Nation played a central role in bringing global attention to the unmarked graves at former Residential School sites and the thousands of missing children who never made it home,” she said. “We welcome Chief Delorme's leadership in this new role. I am confident Indigenous communities, survivors and their families, and respect for Indigenous law will be central to the work of this new committee as it strives to preserve the true history of Residential Schools."

Miller said Delorme’s desire to uncover the truth aligns with the government’s mission in this appointment.

"There can be no reconciliation without first uncovering the truth, and sharing relevant documents will help us do this in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Survivors, families and communities,” he said. “Chief Delorme's extensive leadership and management experience will be a tremendous asset to the committee's mandate of developing a federal approach to identify and manage the sharing of Residential School-related documents with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. These efforts will support Indigenous peoples in their search for answers and healing, which they deserve."

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase