On June 23, 2021, the Sisters of St. Ann (SSA) and the Royal BC Museum signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which will provide enhanced access of the SSA’s private archival records to the Museum and to the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC. Sister Marie Zarowny, President and Board Chair of the Corporation of The Sisters of Saint Ann, wrote the following letter regarding the Agreement.
Click here to view the letter in PDF format.
Greetings to one and all,
The discovery of 215 unmarked graves near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School was a stark reminder that there remain many unanswered questions regarding the schools and those who attended them. The Sisters of Saint Ann are painfully aware of the anguish that so many people are experiencing; we are heart-broken as we think of what the survivors, family members and descendants must be feeling at this time. More than ever, the search for answers must be thorough and transparent. Thank you for your patience as we have redoubled our efforts to collaborate in this search. It is also important that we clarify information regarding The Sisters of Saint Ann and public access to our archives and records.
I am pleased to share the news that today we announced a Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal BC Museum regarding the Archives of the Sisters of Saint Ann which are held at the museum. The MOU will ensure that our records and the processes around access are transparent.
During the course of the last few weeks, misinformation regarding the Archives of The Sisters of St. Ann, as well as how we have provided records with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) have come into question. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some of this information.
1. The Sisters of Saint Ann provided all our records related to Indian Residential Schools to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in November 2012. Prior to sending the records, TRC staff visited our archives on several occasions and worked with us to determine the proper format for sending. We have numerous documents that show our continuing communication and collaboration with both the TRC and the NCTR.
2. At the request of the TRC, we did a thorough search of all our documents to identify the names of any children who became ill, died or were missing. We provided that list to the document gatherers of the TRC, as requested.
3. As teachers in the Indian Residential Schools, no official school records, including class registers, were our property and are therefore not in our archives. These were all turned over to the administrators of the schools and are the property of the Department of Indian Affairs, the federal government department that ran Indian Residential schools.
4. From the time we first heard of abuse in the schools it was of utmost importance to us to learn the truth and to do whatever we could to contribute to making the truth known, to bring about a just resolution and to participate in activities that could lead to healing and reconciliation.
5. To that end, we committed ourselves to fully participate in the Truth and Reconciliation Process, to make our documents available, and to continue to educate the public, through speaking and writing, on both this tragic history as well as the continuing history of the Canada’s unjust relationship with First Nations and other Indigenous people.
6. We affirm our commitment to collaborate in finding the truth and will assist in the process in whatever way we can. The Sisters of Saint Ann Archivist is in communication with the archivist for the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation and is available to work with her on our records.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or if I can clarify any information.
Sister Marie Zarowny, SSA
The Sisters of Saint Ann
President and Chair of the Board