Indigenous group in Canada announces discovery of hundreds of unmarked children's graves

Katie Ramirez
June 24, 2021

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 City of Saskatoon's flags will be lowered to half-mast at 9 a.m. on Thursday to honour the children found in unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School on Cowessess First Nation.

National chief of Canadian advocacy organisation Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, said on Wednesday that the latest discovery was "absolutely tragic, but not surprising". "I urge all Canadians to stand with First Nations in this extremely hard and emotional time", he wrote on Twitter. For much of that time, the Roman Catholic Church operated the school. There, many faced neglect and physical and sexual abuse.

"We have our own languages, we have our own customs, we have our own traditions, our own ceremonies that make us unique and distinct from each other, and it's about celebrating the beauty and diversity of each one of those nations", Rickard said.

It also identified at least 3,200 students who died at the schools during that time - a rate that was far higher than for students elsewhere in Canada - though it said that the figure was probably greater and merited further investigation.

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Last month, the Cowessess began to use ground-penetrating radar to locate unmarked graves at the cemetery of the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

The premier said these discoveries are "stark reminders of the tragedy and lasting impacts of Canada's residential school system, and why we must do more to mark this passage in our country's history".

A press conference will be held on Thursday to reveal the details of the findings. "To know there's some unmarked, it continues the pain".

"The first priority is the health, healing and wellness of the survivors and their families, as well as the community of Cowessess First Nation", Larissa Burnouf from FSIN Communications said.

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