Over 700 unmarked graves found at former residential school in Saskatchewan

Jun 24 2021, 5:24 pm

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for those experiencing pain, distress, or trauma as a result of their residential school experience. More information can be found here.

The Cowessess First Nation announced today that preliminary findings reveal 751 unmarked graves have been discovered at a former Saskatchewan residential school.

This comes just one month after the tragic discovery of 215 children buried at a former Kamloops residential school.

The Nation points out that this wasn’t a mass grave, but unmarked graves that have had their headstones removed sometime in the 60s.

Some of the information they revealed could be triggering to some.

The discovery was made at the Marieval Residential School which was operated by the Roman Catholic Church between 1898 and 1996.


Students at Marieval (Société historique de Saint-Boniface)

In a Facebook live stream, Cowessess Chief Cadmuss Delorme broke the news.

“We started our radar penetrating research on June 2, 2021,” said Chief Delorme.

“Over the past years the oral stories of our Elders, of our survivors, and friends of our survivors, have told us stories that knew these burials were here.”

“In 1960, there may have been marks on these graves. The Catholic Church representatives removed these headstones, and today they are unmarked graves,” he added.

Chief Delorme shared his screen with viewers, to highlight the primary location with the help of a drone.

Unmarked graves

Drone view of the discovery location (Cowessess First Nation/Facebook)

“The Roman Catholic residential school has impacted us intensely. Today we have generations that may have not went to residential school, but they are feeling the first and second generation of that impact.”

“All we ask of all of you listening is that you stand by us as we heal, and we get stronger. We all must put down our ignorance, and accidental racism of not addressing the truth that this country has with Indigenous People.”

Chief Delorme went onto say that they have heard from Canadian leaders including Prime Minister Trudeau who have pledged their support, as well as being in communication with their local Archdiocese.

“Removing headstones is a crime in this country, and we are treating this like a crime scene at the moment.”

The Nation also pointed out that there is a margin of error with the technology that they use, and clarified that there are at least 600 unmarked graves, but up to 751.

The next step for the Cowessess First Nation is to put names to the unmarked graves, which Delorme acknowledged could reopen past wounds for many people.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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