Sask. First Nation discovers hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school site
REGINA -- UPDATED: 751 unmarked burial sites were discovered near the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School on Cowessess First Nation.
A previous version of this story continues below.
Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing.
Cowessess First Nation has made a “horrific and shocking discovery” of hundreds of burial sites on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School, according to a media advisory from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).
The FSIN said “the number of unmarked graves will be the most significantly substantial to date in Canada.”
Cowessess First Nation is scheduled to make an official announcement and provide more details Thursday morning.
SASK. PREMIER REACTS
In a statement posted to Twitter, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said “all of Saskatchewan mourns for those who were discovered buried in unmarked graves near the former Marieval Indian Residential School site.”
Moe said he has spoken with FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron and Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme to offer the “full support of the provincial government...”
MARIEVAL INDIAN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL
The Marieval Indian Residential School closed in 1997 after operating for nearly 100 years.
According to information available through the University of Regina, the school was run by the Catholic Church until Cowessess First Nation took over operations in 1981.
The federal government had purchased the property in 1926. The school was “controversially demolished” in 1999, two years after it closed, and replaced with a day school.
OTHER DISCOVERIES IN SASK.
At the beginning of June, the Muskowekwan First Nation in Saskatchewan held a ceremony to honour the 215 children whose remains were found at a Kamloops residential school site and recognize the 35 unmarked graves found on the site of the Muscowequan Indian Residential School.
In 2018 and 2019, the First Nation worked with the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta to use ground-penetrating radar to find unmarked or unidentified graves of children who attended the school.
Through that process, along with water line construction done in the 1990s, the First Nation has identified at least 35 graves. It said there are likely more still waiting to be found.
The unmarked graves of approximately 40 Indigenous children were found on the grounds of the former Regina Indian Industrial School in 2014
If you are a former residential school student in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here.