Canada and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations announce approach to locate and commemorate residential schools missing children

News release

June 22, 2021 — Saskatoon, Treaty 6 Territory, Saskatchewan — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) executive says very important work has begun to find and commemorate the unmarked graves of thousands of First Nations children who were forced to attend Indian residential schools in Saskatchewan and did not make it home. The Government of Canada has announced today that it will provide the FSIN with $4.88 million in funding from the $27.1 million set aside for Calls to Action 74 to 76. These funds will help with research, knowledge gathering and the initial ceremonies related to the burial sites of children who never returned from residential schools to their Indigenous communities. The funding will also help communities gather the information necessary to guide appropriate ground penetrating radar work.

The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The Federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of the Treaties, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the Treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.

Quotes

"This has been a difficult time for First Nations, Inuit and Métis across Canada. Saskatchewan First Nations know best what they need, and Canada will be there with the FSIN to support them in ways that are First Nation-led, community-based, Survivor-centric and culturally sensitive. We are here to support Survivors, families and communities with essential healing supports for those once again reliving the horrific tragedies of their experiences at residential schools. We will be there for all communities. We must never forget those innocent souls lost as a result of colonial policies—this is our collective commitment toward reconciliation."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

"Ceremony, research and important engagement with knowledge keepers, Survivors and their descendants have been taking place over the last few weeks. Essential healing support has also been provided to a number of our Survivors who are once again reliving the horrific tragedies of their experiences at residential schools. There are hundreds of Survivors and descendants who have provided testimony of classmates who did not return home from residential schools and sanitariums across the province. GPR teams are being dispatched to several sites across the province in the hopes of locating these children to bring closure to the Survivors, their descendants and their communities. It is a positive step toward healing and reconciliation for government to finally give these families and communities the closure they deserve and peace to the thousands of little souls in the unmarked graves surrounding these schools."

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron

Quick facts

  • The FSIN will coordinate funding to support knowledge gathering and research, as well as to commemorate and hold ceremonies for the 74 communities it represents.

  • Through Budget 2019, a total of $33.8 million over three years was invested to support the important work of Calls to Action 72 to 76.

  • Of that amount, the specific $27 million for Calls to Action 74 to 76 is to be distributed on an urgent basis and is available to Indigenous partners and communities.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Ani Dergalstanian
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
819-997-0002

Larissa Burnouf
FSIN Communications
306-291-6864
communications@fsin.com
larissa.burnouf@fsin.com

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
819-934-2302
RCAANC.media.CIRNAC@canada.ca

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