Yukon working on release of residential school records

The territorial government says it can't provide the cause of death for individual students, but it can provide summaries and other information asked for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Yukon government says it can provide much of the information the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is asking about deaths of residential school students in the territory.

The Yukon legislature voted unanimously Wednesday to help the Truth and Reconciliation Commission find the answers to questions it has about the deaths of residential school students in the territory.

The last school in Yukon closed in 1969. But Kim Murray, the commission's executive director says very little is known about the children who died in them over many decades of operation.

Murray says there are still many questions about residential schools in Yukon.

"Those questions are who died, how they died and where they're buried," she says.

The spokeperson for the Yukon Cabinet Office, Elaine Schiman, says the government has been speaking with the commission this week and believes it can provide answers.

She says the government can give the names of the students who died and when they died, as well as their burial place. Schiman says it can't provide the cause of death, but it will give aggregate totals such as what percentage of students died from what illness.

Only family members in Yukon are allowed to inquire about the cause of death of residential school students. Researchers and others have to wait for 100 years before information about the death of a student will be released.

Murray says the law is one of the most restrictive in the country. The wait in B.C. by comparison is 10 years.

   • At least 3,000 died in residential schools, research shows

Opposition New Democrat MLA Kevin Barr brought forward the motion. He says it's important that the questions be answered.

"It still amazes me with how many Canadians are unfamiliar with what happened in the schools, and still today do not know what happened to them. This is why we must proceed and finish this business for true healing to happen," Barr says.