Sask. looking for input on residential school monument to be built in Regina
REGINA -- Saskatchewan’s Lieutenant Governor is looking for feedback from residential school survivors, family members, elders and community leaders as the province designs a permanent monument to honour those impacted by residential schools.
“It’s about making sure we don’t forget, and making sure that we acknowledge that residential schools are and will continue to be a part of Saskatchewan history and Canadian history,” Russ Mirasty, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, said.
The monument is in response to Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Call to Action #82, which recommended a public monument to honour the children taken from their homes. It will be installed on the west side of the Government House grounds.
According to the Government of Canada, 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families to attend residential schools. The TRC estimates roughly 20 residential schools operated in Saskatchewan from the 1880s to the 1990s.
Robert Kakakaway, who attended Marieval Indian Residential School near Broadview from 1960-1966, said the monument is a good step forward in marking the history of the schools.
Kakakaway said its location is important and he would like to see it in a more populated area.
“If it’s way off on Dewdney Avenue, where not that many people go, then it’s kind of defeating the purpose. It’s kind of like putting it in a closet where not many people will look,” he said. “If anything, it should be on the government grounds or in some park, like Wascana [Park].”
Mirasty said Government House was chosen because of several reasons.
He said it does get busy, especially in the summer months, but the fact that it is not quite as busy as Wascana Park will give visitors a secluded place to reflect on the history.
“This has to be more than just a physical monument where people just walk by and admire what it looks like, and continue on,” Mirasty said. “It will provide a quieter space where people can come and think about that and possibly even learn.”
He said Government House holds historical significance with Indigenous people, because it – like the residential schools – existed before the province as we know it today.
It is also located very close to where the Regina Industrial School once stood.
Mirasty said they have received some suggestions on what the monument should look like and include, but its design has not been decided yet.
“All I can say really is that there will be a physical, permanent monument,” he said.
He said they are looking to get more feedback on what it should look like from residential school survivors, family members of those who attended schools, Indigenous elders, community leaders and anyone else who was affected.
“[We want to] try to be as inclusive as possible,” Mirasty said. “Then we’ll present those ideas to a group here to move forward with a design.”
Kakakaway said there are many ways the design could go. He said it could include children, families and/or links to Indigenous culture.
“I guess it would depend on the artist’s conception of what it should look like,” Kakakaway said. “It could be someone in a traditional uniform versus someone who’s dressed up in a school uniform with nuns and priests.”
Mirasty said there is no set date for when the monument will be installed, but they are hoping to have it up by Orange Shirt Day in the Fall.