The Yukon government will bankroll ground searches at residential school sites in Yukon, according to Premier Sandy Silver.
"I reiterated today our government's commitment to working with First Nations to bring these atrocities to light, to … hopefully heal our communities and create a brighter future for the next generation," he said Friday afternoon during the Yukon Forum.
He said the government will "also to work in partnership in the search to uncover evidence of the harms of residential schools, including searching residential school grounds for burial sites."
Last week, the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said preliminary findings from a survey of the grounds at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School uncovered the remains of 215 children.
Silver called the site of the school there a "crime scene."
It's unclear when investigations at residential school sites in Yukon will begin.
'We need action'
Peter Johnston, the grand chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, said it's incumbent on First Nations to guide the work.
"This has to come from the communities," he said. "It has to come from the families.
"This is very sensitive to a number of families and individuals, so we need to deal with this accordingly."
The federal government announced that $27 million will be eventually available for communities to conduct searches.
Silver said the Yukon government isn't waiting for that money to flow.
"We will invest the resources necessary," he said.
Johnston suggested the Catholic Church is holding up the process. The church, with its ties to the Vatican, has never apologized for its role in the residential school system.
More information is needed from the Catholic Church to understand the full scale of the problem, Johnston said.
"We need action," he said. "We need to see some concrete responsibility being taken here for the respective nations and families that are affected by this. Forgiveness can only be given when there's respect as well."