REGINA: The Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS), responds to the recent discovery of 751 unmarked grave at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School on Cowessess First Nation with grief and anger. This is a horrific and sad reminder of the devasting impact of the prisons for Indigenous children we know as residential schools. We all care about children, yet many of us can only imagine the depth of injustice, pain and intergenerational trauma caused by colonialism, of having kids forcibly taken away and never returned home to the love and warmth of a family, culture, and community.
These discoveries reveal the truths known consistently in Indigenous communities for generations. They confirm the stories shared with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission among other sources. Many survivors, family, and community members are distressed and retraumatized. We are grateful for the courage and perseverance that First Nations and Métis leaders, residential school survivors and descendants demonstrate. Lorna Standingready, a residential school survivor has shared her experiences many times with the community. See link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHpqiD627Zg.
Collectively, we can no longer turn a blind eye to the destruction in the name of “civilization”. In order to create communities based on healthy, respectful, equitable relationships, we must stand strong together and demand substantive, systemic changes. The initiative on Cowessess First Nation to create culturally appropriate, family-centred ways to protect children is one example. Governments at all levels, faith communities, businesses, and community organizations can take responsibility to examine their structures, policies, processes, and programs through an anti-racism lens, and in conversation with those impacted, in order to affect lasting change.
As we grieve these lost young lives, may we find strength and motivation in learning, sharing, and connecting. We can each intentionally take action on our journey of decolonization and anti-racism. Individuals can offer support and solidarity with Indigenous organizations, friends, family, colleagues, schoolmates, and neighbours. We encourage Saskatchewan residents to attend, support, and promote Indigenous heritage learning opportunities; for those in Regina, Buffalo People Arts Institute is offering Buffalo Day on July 1, at Buffalo Meadows Park. #EveryChildMatters