Canada will support the Sipekne’katik First Nation Project

News release

Taking care: We recognize this news release may contain information that is difficult for many and that our efforts to honour Survivors and families may act as an unwelcome reminder for those who have suffered hardships through generations of government policies that were harmful to Indigenous Peoples.

A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

Indigenous Peoples can also access the Hope for Wellness Help Line by phone at 1-855-242-3310 or via online chat through the website at

April 20, 2022 — Sipekne’katik First Nation, Nova Scotia, Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The locating of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across Canada is a tragic reminder of the abuse Indigenous children suffered in these institutions. The Government of Canada is working with Survivors, Indigenous leaders and affected families and communities as part of efforts to address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the legacy of residential schools. Part of this work includes efforts being made to locate and commemorate missing children who attended residential schools, as well as responding to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76.

Today, Chief Michael .P. Sack of Sipekne’katik First Nation; the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Parliamentary Secretary Jaime Battiste are announcing funding of $326,700 from the Residential School Children’s – Community Support Funding Program, in support of Sipekne’katik First Nation’s “Shubenacadie Residential School Support Project for Sipekne’katik.” This funding will assist with the research, knowledge gathering, commemoration, memorialization and fieldwork that will be undertaken by the First Nation on the grounds surrounding the former Shubenacadie residential school.

Sipekne’katik First Nation has already begun the difficult work. The project, titled “Shubenacadie Residential School Support Project for Sipekne’katik,” involves local research and knowledge gathering with Elders, and fieldwork investigation on the surrounding areas of the school that were not included in earlier fieldwork investigation supported by Parks Canada. It will also include commemorative events such as the installation of a plaque honouring the missing children who attended the residential school.

The Government of Canada will continue to be there to support communities as they respond to and heal from intergenerational trauma and the ongoing impact of residential schools. Budget 2022 proposes to provide $209.8 million over five years, starting in 2022-23, to increase the support provided to communities to document, locate, and memorialize burial sites at former residential schools; to support the operations of and a new building for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation; and to ensure the complete disclosure of federal documents related to residential schools.

Addressing the harms suffered by Survivors, their families and communities is at the heart of reconciliation and is essential to renewing and building relationships with Indigenous Peoples, governments, and all Canadians.


“While our community continues to grapple with the devastating impacts of the Residential School system we acknowledge that we are in a time of reconciliation.  We are working on many levels to heal the intergenerational wounds inflicted on our community and the scars that remain on our Survivors.

Projects like the Shubenacadie Residential School Support project will aid in identifying and further addressing these effects by reinforcing our cultural landscape. It is through partnerships between First Nations communities, government, and the public at large that we can work together toward restoring hope and healing.”

Chief Michael .P. Sack
Sipekne’katik First Nation

“I welcome this announcement as a commitment to honour the legacy of Indian Residential school survivors. Having played an active role in recent surveys of this residential school site it is imperative that we carry on with past work as directed by IRS the survivors, Mainland Grand Council, community members as well as Chief and Council. The site remains a tragic reminder of the cruelty that happened at those sites.”

Roger Lewis, Sipekne’katik Elder, Grand Keptin and IRS Survivor

“In my work with Shubenacadie Residential School Survivors and Descendants, over the past four years with MDCC, Survivors indicated that healing and reconciliation must include ceremony and commemoration of all Survivors of the IRS, the children who died there, the ones who are still missing and the ones who may never be found, and those who are still here. Survivors want research to continue on the former grounds and surrounding areas and are hopeful that it will locate burial sites that will be protected.”

Dorene Bernard, IRS Survivor MDCC coordinator, Grassroots Grandmother and Sipekne’katik Band Member

“Over the next few years, Sipekne’katik First Nation will continue the difficult work of addressing the ongoing painful legacy of the Shubenacadie residential school. Our Government is committed to providing support for projects like this one, so communities can continue leading the difficult work of finding and commemorating children who never came home, while addressing the specific needs and wishes of Survivors, their families and communities.”

The Honourable Marc Miller,
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

"Sipekne'katik will undertake work related to research, knowledge gathering, commemoration, and fieldwork investigation of the Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia. This funding will support the Mi'kmaw community in revealing its truth so that they may advance healing for our people. Our Government will continue to implement the calls to action, on the journey of reconciliation."

Jaime Battiste
Member of Parliament, Sydney—Victoria, Nova Scotia
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“The site of the former Shubenacadie Residential School is significant for Indigenous communities across Atlantic Canada. To move forward on the path of reconciliation, it was important for radar penetration work to happen across the site to ensure any unmarked burial sites were found. Thankfully, to date that has not been the case, and I’m glad our government is playing a meaningful role in supporting the important work undertaken by Sipekne'katik First Nation.”

Kody Blois
Member of Parliament, Kings—Hants, Nova Scotia

Quick facts

  • Sipekne’katik First Nation is a Mi’kmaq community of 2901 members and is located in Hants County, Nova Scotia, near Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. The land spans roughly 12.13 square kilometres and is located 68 kilometres from Kijipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia).

  • On August 10, 2021, the Government of Canada announced approximately $320 million in additional support for Indigenous-led, Survivor-centric and culturally informed initiatives and investments to help Indigenous communities respond to and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools, including $83 million in additional investments towards community support funding for Residential Schools missing children. This $83 million supplements the $33.8 million announced in Budget 2019, for a total investment of $116.8 million responding to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76.

  • A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line is also available at 1-855-242-3310 or via the online chat function through their website.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Justine Leblanc
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

CIRNAC Media Relations:

Corinne MacLellan
Communications Branch
Sipekne’katik First Nation
Phone: 902-209-3234

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