Information for staff, students and families regarding unmarked graves at former residential school in Saskatchewan
June 25, 2021
On June 24, 2021, the Cowessess First Nation announced a preliminary finding of 751 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Saskatchewan. This follows further news of burial sites at former residential schools in Kamloops, B.C. and Brandon, Manitoba, and we know that sadly this will not be the last time that unmarked graves will be confirmed at former residential schools.
The pain and grief that Indigenous communities are feeling across the country and in our communities is deep. Our thoughts continue to be with Indigenous staff, students and communities across Canada.
For students and families requiring support, school and board staff are available, including the board’s Indigenous Social Worker. Staff are encouraged to reach out to the board’s Employee & Family Assistance Program, which provides a wide range of services and resources.
Additionally, a National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up, which provides 24/7 support for former students and those affected. Services can be accessed by calling 1-866 925-4419.
Substantial work must be done in our communities, schools and systems to face the historical and current atrocities faced by Indigenous communities, and to ensure that Indigenous staff and students are not deprived of their rights, and can learn and work in an environment free of racism and discrimination. We remain committed to doing the necessary work, starting with the truth, so that we can take meaningful steps toward reconciliation.
We as educational leaders are urged to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and its 94 Calls to Action. The board recently ratified the new Indigenous Education policy, which will guide much of our work as a school board going forward and help us to learn and unlearn the truths of colonialism. We will continue to work with and learn from our partners in Indigenous communities.