Publication Date: 2021/05/31

We are heartbroken by the discovery of the remains of Indigenous children at Indian Residential Schools located on the traditional territories and lands of First Nations people.

Countless children who lost their childhoods.

Countless children who never came home.

Countless families broken by the loss of generational joy, stories and potential within their communities.

Countless unfulfilled futures due to Canada’s genocide of Indigenous Peoples.

Devastated by this news, UNICEF Canada stands with First Nations and all Indigenous people across this land. We must demonstrate that humanity, fairness and justice for children and youth will be a priority along our path of Truth and Reconciliation.

UNICEF Canada embraces our responsibility to advocate for the rights of Indigenous children and others who have been historically and systemically discriminated. As an organization, we will continue to advocate for equitable access to services and programs that support the health, education and lives of Indigenous communities in Canada

As a nation, we need to acknowledge this tragic history and we must all commit to making change in the future. 

While the discovery of these unmarked graves coincides with National Indigenous Heritage Month, this is a sobering reminder that symbolic gestures are not enough to right the racist and shameful treatment of Indigenous children, youth and families.

Together, we must:

  • Seek the truth about the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada with a willingness to acknowledge the extent of loss to Indigenous communities.
  • Remember the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who were abused and died as a result of the residential school experience and support and honour the survivors who are still with us today.
  • Bring our voice and collective action to the forefront by addressing the inequities that still exist.
  • Reimagine a better future for all children by supporting Jordan’s Principle and calling for the government to fully implement the rulings and orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case on equitable funding for First Nations child welfare as well as advocating for the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society’s Spirit Bear Plan 


Related links:

UNICEF Canada’s Statement of Reconciliation


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UNICEF is the world’s leading humanitarian organization focused on children. We work in the most challenging areas to provide protection, healthcare and immunizations, education, safe water and sanitation and nutrition. As part of the United Nations, our unrivaled reach spans more than 190 countries and territories, ensuring we are on the ground to help the most disadvantaged children. While part of the UN system, UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations to finance our life-saving work. Please visit and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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