For immediate release
January 12, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) is issuing this statement in response to the announcement that evidence of unmarked graves has been found at the site of a Saskatchewan residential school.
Earlier today, the Star Blanket Cree Nation announced that they have found evidence of unmarked graves in the area that was once the former Qu’appelle Indian Residential School, located near Labret, Saskatchewan. While patrolling the site, a security officer, Tyrell Star Blanket, came across a piece of a mandible. The bone was examined by the Saskatchewan coroner’s office and identified as belonging to a 4 to 6-year-old child. The bone was aged as approximately 125 years old, placing the time of death around 1898.
Through the use of ground penetrating radar, the Star Blanket First Nation Indian Residential School (IRS) Ground Search Project Team said that there are over 2000 underground anomalies found on the land surrounding the schools. The radar is unable to differentiate between remains or an object under the earth, such as a rock or wood, so the project team intends to identify each of these anomalies. One way they may do this is by cone drilling to receive samples for testing.
MKO Grand Chief Settee states:
“My heart breaks for the community of Star Blanket Cree Nation, and for the survivors and families of those that attended Qu’appelle Indian Residential School, as well as those impacted by residential schools across the country. The continued findings of unmarked grave sites at former residential school sites in Canada is distressing to First Nations, but I commend the Star Blanket Cree Nation for their search as it is important that our relatives are found.
The people and institutions who created and ran these schools must be held accountable, and healing for our survivors and our people needs to be a priority. I echo the calls for funding for further searches and healing and wellness centres for First Nations in Canada that were heard from the Star Blanket Cree Nation IRS Team Lead, Sheldon Poitras, and the FSIN [Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations] Chief Bobby Cameron in today’s press conference.”
Anyone that may need support after reading these recent findings can call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, or the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310. Both help lines can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information:
Philip Paul Martin, Communications Officer
Email: [email protected]