Government of Canada and the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum Commemorate the National Historic Significance of the former Shubenacadie Indian Residential School
TAKING CARE: We recognize this comes at a difficult time for many and that our efforts to show solidarity with Indigenous Peoples and honour victims and families may become a painful reminder to those who have suffered hardships through generations of government policies that have been harmful to Indigenous Peoples. A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students where you can access emotional crisis referral services.
Please call the Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 if you or someone you know is triggered while reading this.
We encourage all those who need some support at this time to reach out and know that support is always there for you through the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 (toll-free) or the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
You can also find information on how to obtain other health supports from the Government of Canada website.
This recognition is an important step to a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
September 30, 2021 Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia Parks Canada Agency
The Residential School System was part of a shameful colonial policy that removed Indigenous children from their families and communities, not only denying them their traditions, language and culture, but also exposing children to grievous harm and even death. Indigenous people and communities have suffered impacts from residential schools, which endure across multiple generations. On the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, all Canadians pause to reflect on this tragic history, acknowledge the past, honour those children who were lost, and recognize the extraordinary strength and resilience of the Survivors and of all Indigenous People. The Government of Canada is committed to raising the voices of Indigenous People to ensure this history is never forgotten.
Today, Senator Dan Christmas and Member of Parliament for Kings-Hants, Kody Blois, on behalf of the Government of Canada, along with the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum and Shubenacadie Indian Residential School Survivors, commemorated the national historic significance of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School with a special ceremony to unveil a plaque in Shubenacadie.
The former Shubenacadie Indian Residential School was nominated for designation under the National Program of Historical Commemoration by the co-chair of the Tripartite Culture and Heritage Working Committee of the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum on behalf of Survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School and their descendants. Parks Canada and the nominator collaborated to identify the historic value of the former Shubenacadie Indian Residential School.
Although the school building is no longer standing, the site of the former school is a place of remembrance and healing for some Survivors and their descendants, who wish to preserve the Indian Residential School history in the Maritimes.
The experiences of former students and Survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School and other residential schools across Canada continue to affect generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis families and communities. These designations under the National Program of Historical Commemoration are an important part of the Government of Canada’s response to Call to Action 79 of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“This past year, more than ever, we are reminded of the painful and harmful legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system. Commemorating the national historic significance of the former Shubenacadie Indian Residential School is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to acknowledging the past and, in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and communities, sharing the experiences of Indigenous children in these schools to ensure that this history is remembered and these stories are told. In doing so, we hope to foster better understanding of our shared history as we walk the path of reconciliation together.”
Senator Dan Christmas
“This site will stand as a testament to the impact of the experiences of our Survivors, their families and communities, and will preserve a part of Canadian history that should never be forgotten. Between 1929-1967, over 1,000 Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqiyik students attended the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School, including my father and uncles. Although the building is no longer standing, our Survivors have prioritized a National Historic Site designation, and we, as a community, will have the opportunity to continue our journey of healing.”
Executive Director, Mi’kmawey Debert, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq
Open from 1930 to 1967, the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School was the only Residential School in the Maritimes.
Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqiyik children from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Quebec attended Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. It is also possible that children from other Indigenous communities were sent to this school. They were subjected to harsh discipline; malnutrition and starvation; poor healthcare; physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; medical experimentation; neglect; the deliberate suppression of their cultures and languages; and loss of life.
The history of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School is highly fraught and difficult to construct given the trauma that was, and is, inherent within its history. Many survivors are still unable to speak about their experiences.
Call to Action 79 of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for national commemoration of residential school sites and the history and legacy of residential schools. For more information on the Calls to Action, please visit: http://trc.ca/assets/pdf/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf
Parks Canada is working with Indigenous Peoples to incorporate Indigenous views, histories, and heritage into national parks and historic sites. This is part of the Government’s commitment to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada regarding the designation of places, persons and events of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration.
The Government of Canada, on the advice of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant people, places, and events that shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians and youth connect with their past. The commemoration process is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,200 designations have been made.
National historic designations are the result of nominations under the National Program of Historical Commemoration. They commemorate all aspects of Canadian history, both positive and negative. While some designations recall moments of greatness and triumph, others encourage reflection about the tragic, complex and challenging moments and experiences that define the Canada of today. In sharing these stories, Canadians have opportunities to learn about the full scope of our shared history, including difficult periods that have shaped our present-day.
To nominate a nationally significant person, site or historical event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/ncp-pcn/application.
Parks Canada Agency
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq
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