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Murray’s mandate extended

Kimberly Murray, the special interlocutor for missing children and unmarked graves and burial sites associated with Indian residential schools, was originally appointed to her role in 2022. Courtesy Kimberly Murray

Kimberly Murray, the federal point person for missing children and unmarked graves, will continue her work for a further six months, having had her mandate extended to continue assisting survivors and communities in locating burial sites associated with residential schools.

“I’m grateful to have the extra time to make sure that my report is to my satisfaction, and to have that extra time to put some more thought into what it should look like and how it should be presented,” said Murray, the special interlocutor for missing children and unmarked graves and burial sites associated with Indian residential schools. 

“The extension has given me an opportunity to go to places I haven’t been yet and return to some communities that have asked me to come back.”

Murray, who is from Kanesatake, has been visiting communities across Turtle Island, compiling reports that detail groups’ search for unmarked graves and burial sites, and sharing feedback from national gatherings and consultations concerning the processes. 

She has also assisted communities in other capacities within her role, including as an intervenor in the ongoing court battles of the Kanien’kehá:ka Kahnistensera (Mohawk Mothers) to search grounds attached to McGill University.

Throughout her mandate, which began in June 2022, she has released summary reports from each gathering, as well as an interim report which was delivered to the minister of Justice and attorney general of Canada Arif Virani, as well as to communities affected. 

She is also working on a final report, which will be released after the final national gathering, which is anticipated to be held in the fall of this year. It will again contain recommendations to the federal government for how best to navigate searching for missing children and unmarked graves. 

She said it’s crucial that the final report is comprehensive, and that the extension will therefore benefit communities doing these searches long term. 

“My recommendations will include what I believe could support communities once my office is gone,” she said, adding that the report should be released before the end of her mandate, giving her extra time to ensure her recommendations are implemented.

“When you look at other reports that have come out, the commissioners or the people that wrote them are gone the day they release the report. So, it’s actually quite helpful for me to have those few months after it comes out to try and socialize the government to the recommendations – and have me interpret them, not them, so they understand what I meant.”

Murray said that several letters were sent to the minister of Justice’s office requesting that her role be extended, including from various councils in communities across Turtle Island, and that the chiefs of Ontario had passed a unanimous resolution demanding that Canada extend her mandate further.

“These issues are going to continue to evolve, and they’re going to continue long past my mandate extension,” Murray said. 

“It’s really important that we put something in place to support communities, because communities are still doing research, they’re still doing on the ground searches, and they’re still finding sites of truth that they want to search.”

Murray’s reports can be found online at osi-bis.ca. 

evedcable@gmail.com

This article was originally published in print on June 21 in issue 33.25 of The Eastern Door.

Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.