TAKING CARE: We recognize this comes at a difficult time for many and that our efforts to honour victims and families may act as an unwelcome reminder to 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. 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.
OTTAWA, ON, July 8, 2021 /CNW/ - Residential schools were part of a shameful and racist colonial policy that removed Indigenous children from their communities and denied them their families, language and culture. These institutions have had enduring negative impacts on First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities, cultures, economies, traditional knowledge and ways of life, languages, family structures, and connections to the land.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced the designation of the Former Muscowequan (Pronounced: Mus-KOW-i-gan) Indian Residential School in Lestock, Saskatchewan, as a national historic site under the National Program of Historical Commemoration.
The former Muscowequan school, located on Muskowekwan First Nation lands within Treaty 4 Territory northeast of Regina, is the last standing residential school in Saskatchewan. The building was constructed in 1930-31 and replaced earlier school buildings dating to the late 1800s. It was saved from demolition by school survivors and community members who see it as an important site that bears witness to the history of residential schools, and hope to repurpose it into a place of commemoration, healing, and cultural learning, and a site of memory for all Canadians. At least 35 unmarked graves have been found on the former school property since the 1990s.
For over a century, children from a number of First Nations in Treaty 4 territory, across Saskatchewan, and elsewhere in Canada were sent to the school. It operated until 1997, making it one of the last residential schools to close in Canada. This former residential school was nominated for designation by Muskowekwan First Nation, who worked with Parks Canada as part of a collaborative process to bring forward the experiences of Survivors and determine the historic values of the site.
The experiences of former students and Survivors of the Muscowequan residential school and other residential schools across Canada continue to affect generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis families and communities. These designations 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.
National historic designations are the result of nominations to 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 of 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 the difficult periods that are part of our past and have shaped our present-day.
"Today marks a historic day in Canada. The designation of Muscowequan Indian Residential School as a national historic site will ensure all Canadians and the world learn the truth about the atrocities that occurred in these schools. We worked diligently with Parks Canada to ensure Muscowequan Indian Residential School received its designation as a national historic site because our history in these schools need to be acknowledged, recognized and on display for all Canadians to learn about. Far too long, our survivors have lived through this dark history without recognition but today marks a new era of reconciliation and learning. We have suffered too long from this sad chapter in Canadian history which has long lasting impacts in our communities. We can now speak our truth and have a building that will tell our story from our perspective. We would also like to acknowledge and congratulate former Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie on their national historic designation as well."
Chief Reginald Bellerose
Muskowekwan First Nation
"We have had a painful reminder recently, with the location of unmarked graves at the former Kamloops, Marieval, and other residential schools, that the Residential School System is a tragic and shameful period in Canada's history that continues to have profound impacts to this day. One of the last schools to close, the Former Muscowequan Residential School site stands as a testament to its impact on Survivors, their families and the community. The Government of Canada is acknowledging the past and, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples and communities, is committed to 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."
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
SOURCE Parks Canada
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