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Moccasins and flowers are amongst the items left at a makeshift memorial on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc band council encouraged mourners to take part in a national day of prayer to honour the remains of 215 children that were found at the site in Kamloops, B.C., June 6, 2021.

JENNIFER GAUTHIER/Reuters

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FINDING JUSTICE

Re RCMP Probing Kamloops Residential School Site, Sinclair Says (June 4): During my career as a lawyer I worked at Canada’s Department of Justice and served in the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Unit, and later the Core Aboriginal Law litigation group. It is my view that the recent discovery of 215 bodies cries out for justice.

Apart from the important work of helping survivors and funding the further discovery and proper burial of bodies, Canadians want justice. One way of proceeding, and the best in my view, would be for the government to establish a Royal Commission, with full subpoena power, into these deaths and into the perpetrators, and with the power to initiate criminal prosecution or civil proceedings against those responsible for these crimes. Perhaps the establishment of a unit similar to the War Crimes Unit, with dedicated historians and lawyers, would be the most effective way to proceed. Whatever is to be done must be done quickly. Documents will start disappearing if they have not done so already.

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Canadians will not be able to live with the shame of what was done to these children unless the government acts and acts quickly on all fronts.

Charlotte A. Bell Q.C., Toronto


I heard it mentioned on the radio that instead of using the term “residential schools” we should call them “residential camps.” The reference to labour camps is apt because many of the children at these facilities were forced to work hard in the fields and within the schools, without proper nourishment and care. Schools are a place for learning, not beatings and belittlement. I think “residential camps” is more appropriate. No more euphemisms.

Jenny Scott, Oakville, Ont.


Re Ottawa pledges funds to locate unmarked Indigenous burial sites (June 3): It is with great sadness and disappointment that I must take the place of my Pope and bishops to apologize to all my Indigenous neighbours for the pain inflicted on them. What a pathetic response we’ve seen from the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Loretta McCarthy, Ottawa

TARNISHED LEGACY

Re Debate Grows Over Sir John Statues (June 4): It is understandable that many Canadians want to forget John A. Macdonald and his peers, whose policies aimed at the erasure of our First Nations’ languages and cultures. It seems insensitive to have any other point of view.

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But rather than destroying the memory of John A. Macdonald, I would like to see a circle of bronze statues of Indigenous people positioned around his statue, staring at him.

Hugh McKechnie, Newmarket, Ont.


There can be no doubt that Sir John A. Macdonald was a significant figure in Canadian history. That he is implicated in recent revelations does not diminish his prominence. I suspect there are very few leaders, past or present, in Canada or elsewhere, who could emerge from the inspection chamber sparkling clean. I agree with Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson that it is far better to leave his, and other, statues in place and add the missing information on a conspicuous plaque. Telling the whole story would be so much more illuminating for everyone than eliminating history.

Chris Humphrey, Ottawa

SCHOOL’S OUT

Re Doug Ford’s Pandemic Response Has Been The Worst of Canada’s Premiers (June 3): Doug Ford has said he “will not take unnecessary risks with our children right now.” However, by choosing to keep Ontario’s schools closed longer than those of any other provinces, he has done exactly that. He has chosen to sacrifice the physical and mental health of Ontario’s children, who are rotting away in front of screens all day, devoid of genuine interaction with peers and teachers. His wavering on this issue, along with his request for and subsequent rejection of expert advice implies a failure of leadership and lack of strategy, or a cynical political calculation. At the next election, I will not forget Doug Ford’s failure to prioritize Ontario’s children, parents and teachers.

Jeremy Klein, Ottawa

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Back in September, 2020, the Ontario government announced an “extraordinary” $1.3-billion-plan for keeping schools safe. Last week the Premier announced the abject failure of that plan. In what company does the CEO announce that a $1.3-billion capital project has failed to meet the even the basic objectives, without the CEO’s immediate dismissal? Where did the money go and, quite frankly, when can the taxpayers expect to get it back?

Emily Ames, Pickering, Ont.


I am a physician who has been in the trenches of this pandemic since it began. I’m also a mom of three. So while fighting this pandemic on the front lines, I’ve also been trying to help my children cope with the enormous losses they’ve suffered over the past year.

Last week I had to tell them they won’t return to school this year. They won’t be able to say goodbye to their teachers, to see their friends in person. I then held my seven-year-old daughter as she sobbed, saying, “Mama, my eyes hurt from the screens. I’m lonely. I just want to go back to school.” I heard the same thing from every parent I know.

Doug Ford, please listen to the scientists and experts about kids’ mental health. As a physician and mom I am imploring you to reverse your decision. Let kids go back to school.

Robin Verduyn MD, Toronto

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IN THIS TOGETHER?

Re Canada Reluctant to Join International Vaccine-Sharing Campaign (June 3): It was bad enough that Canada took two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX that were intended for low-income countries. Now we are not joining the international vaccine-sharing campaign to share our vaccine supplies with lower-income countries. The government states that we are all in this together but I guess that being in this together stops at the border. The fact is that COVID-19 and its variants will remain a threat until the virus is eliminated globally.

Kaz Shikaze, Mississauga

CALGARY SUNSETS

Re Painter Saw the Art Form As ‘Putting Something Good Into The World’ and Piano Man. Family Man. Education Advocate. Giggler (June 3): I read the obituaries of Harold Feist and Andrew Arida with heartfelt appreciation. Their international experiences and connections to Calgary echoed my own experience. How the articles drew lines of beauty from exotic places to our own homegrown beautiful places on the Prairies and foothills of Alberta makes me realize we as Canadians are appreciating our own country as much as exotic far away places. The reference to the beautiful sunsets at the Glenmore Reservoir being read across the country warms my heart. Knowing there are still good lives being lived gives me hope.

Lillias Cowper, Calgary

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