Mississaugas of Scugog Island Chief says it’s time to keep Truth and Reconciliation Commission promises

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Published June 24, 2021 at 8:29 pm

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The horrific discovery of 751 unmarked graves found near the Marieval Indian Residential School is but the latest chapter in the genocidal legacy of Canada’s Residential Schools.

The Marieval Indian Residential School operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area where Cowessess First Nation is now located, about 140 kilometres east of Regina. Children from First Nations in southeast Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba were sent to the school.

The school was run by the Catholic Church and Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said there would have been headstones for at least some of the graves at one time. The headstones, he said, were likely removed by the church in the 1960s – an act, he pointed out, that is illegal in this country.

“We are treating this site as a crime zone,” Delorme said.

The First Nation band took over the cemetery from the Catholic Church in the 1970s.

Cowessess First Nation started using ground-penetrating radar June 2. It was not immediately clear if all the remains are children or if they are even all connected to the school.

Chief Delorme said the news may be triggering to many indigenous people, even to those who never attended residential schools, and he asked all Canadians to “stand with us as we heal.”

He said his people will try to put names to as many graves as they possibly can. “We want to honour our loved ones.”

Statement from Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation Chief and Council on the findings at Cowessess First Nation

This newest discovery at Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan will not be the last of its kind.

This is a time for the government and the Church to acknowledge the truth about their contributions to these findings. A formal apology is the very least they can offer – but more importantly, a true admission of guilt and public acknowledgment about their role in the creation of and participation in Residential Schools.

Further, there exists a formula for the government to follow to enact real change – this formula, of course, is in the form of 94 calls-to-action delineated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Prioritize fulfilling these promises.

The impact of the Residential School Era is felt powerfully and currently by our community, and each new discovery opens a new wound in need of healing.

Miigwetch,

Chief Kelly LaRocca, Councillor Laura Colwell, Councillor Jamie Coons

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