We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the discovery of 751 unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. Our hearts go out to the families and survivors of the Cowessess First Nation, and to Indigenous communities across Canada.
We consider this in the context of the horrific discovery last month announced by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation of the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential Schools. Tragically, thousands of children died while in residential schools, as has been reported in the Truth and Reconciliation Report, released in 2015. We are likely to hear more in future days and months, and we will need to find ways to be strong allies to our Indigenous peoples, to collectively work toward a positive future between Canadians and Indigenous peoples.
We have again lowered our flags at St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph and flags will remain lowered until July 5 to honour the memory of these children. It is one step in recognition of this tragedy. A second step is to become educated about this issue, and other aspects of Indigenous history, to build understanding, to build connections, and to take a step toward building a path forward.
We encourage everyone to reflect on the significance of this discovery, and to reach out to those who are impacted. On June 30th, radio stations across Canada will be broadcasting A DAY TO LISTEN, in recognition of National Indigenous History Month. This will be an unprecedented collaboration to amplify, elevate, listen to, and learn from Indigenous voices. In partnership with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF), A DAY TO LISTEN is dedicated to sharing stories from Indigenous leaders, residential school survivors, elders, musicians, and teachers throughout the day. This event provides a wonderful opportunity for reflection and learning.
Below are some resources to become better informed, as well as supports available for those most affected by this tragedy. We encourage everyone to learn more, and to seek support as needed.
- Read the 2015 Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Calls to Action.
- Learn about Indigenous knowledge, experiences, and perspectives by participating in the Indigenous Cultural Safety Collaborative Learning Series.
- Learn more about our country’s treatment of Indigenous people. The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies offers a free online course that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.
- Read the letter to the Prime Minister from Chief Mark B. Hill, Six Nations of the Grand River.
This distressing news may have triggered re-traumatization for some of you. If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out. Supports available include:
- TheHope for Wellness Help Line, which offers immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada at 1-855-242-3310.
- A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.
- Employees may also access support through the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP).
Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.