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The remains of 215 children, including some as young as three, have been found in a mass grave on the grounds of a former residential school that was once part of a nationwide effort in Canada to separate Indigenous children from their families in an attempt to assimilate them. Collectively for First Nations across the country, it’s a painful reminder of the dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history as all eyes are on First Nations as we attempt to digest the most recent evidence of the genocide against our people, our children. To date, according to conservative estimates from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, approximately 4,100 to 6,000 children died amid abuse and neglect while in the residential school system, which ran until 1996.
The communities of Norway House Cree Nation, Cross Lake and Opaskwayak Cree Nation all had residential schools in their communities. The news caused a high degree of varied emotional from membership as they struggle to come to terms with what maybe uncovered on the residential school sites in their communities.
Membership have also shown their support to the 215 children by placing shoes at the sites, with dance, song, and prayers for the children and families and for all First Nations feeling the wrath of such a horrendous act. Leadership will continue to support and encourage our membership to remain resilient and strong in their resolve.
We call upon the government in the spirit of reconciliation to respond to our request to seek assistance in finding our lost children and support other First Nations communities in mourning. In addition, the governments must commit to supporting any First Nations seeking thorough investigations into former residential school sites and to take any, and all action available to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
The discovery at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirms what First Nations have believed for decades took place at residential schools. With increased awareness, its leaderships hope there will be increased under
standing for the searing reality of intergenerational impacts of the “Indian” Residential School system. I encourage every single person in Canada to stand with First Nations as we press forward for action to ensure our children are returned to their people to finally receive the respect and dignity not provided to them in life.
Press Release sent by:
Chief Larson Anderson
Chief David Monias
Chief Christian Sinclair
For additional information please contact Denise Rowden at 204-359-6721.