Alberta creates $8M fund to aid search for unmarked residential school graves

Henrietta Strickland
June 24, 2021

A news release Wednesday from Cowessess and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations (FSIN), which represents Saskatchewan's First Nations, did not give a specific number but said it will be the most found to date in Canada.

The Cowessess First Nation is to host a virtual press conference Thursday to publicly announce the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School.

They are asking the media to be respectful of survivors, descendants and the communities affected by the discovery.

According to the province, it will be meeting with Indigenous leaders, elders, and knowledge keepers to determine how to use this money.

Alberta has created an $8 million fund to aid the search for unmarked graves and undocumented deaths linked to residential schools across the province.

Canada's Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister says Ottawa is open to providing archival data on residential schools to the US government to help with its recently announced investigation into Indigenous boarding schools.

MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in the news release that the last few weeks have been hard for residential school survivors and their descendants due to the discovery of these unmarked graves.

The school was turned over to the Cowessess First Nation in 1987, and it was closed 10 years later.

Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here. "It is another step in addressing the painful legacy of residential schools and helping families find closure", said Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson.

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), said the AMC is glad the province is dedicating resources and agreeing to work with First Nations.

"Our citizens are knowledgeable and can provide the right guidance to complete this work with partner organizations in a respectful and culturally appropriate way", Dumas said.

The Sisters of St. Ann and Royal BC Museum say in a joint statement they have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance access to the documents for both the museum and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at the University of B.C.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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