New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Cowessess First Nation is collaborating with the Church to identify 751 unmarked graves

Cowessess First Nation is working with the Church to identify 751 unmarked graves.

Key takeaways:

  • Members of the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan have been dedicated to identifying each victim since the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at a former residential school site in June.

Since the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at a former residential school site in June, members of the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan have been dedicated to identifying each victim.

So far, 300 people have been found near the former Marieval Indian Residential School grounds.

“It’s a validation of the pain, frustration, anger, and exhaustion of remaining Indigenous in a nation that still tries to oppress us,” Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme told INTV.

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A Cowessess study team is currently in Saint Boniface, Manitoba, where most of the Marieval school records are maintained, attempting to piece together a timeline of students and staff who entered the institution and when they left, in collaboration with the Roman Catholic Church.

“The end goal is to get the names to the unmarked graves,” Delorme said.

The Archdiocese of Regina says it is collaborating with Cowessess as well.

“Everything we have that offers a nice framework for us to work with the archival team at Cowessess in contributing every piece of information that might help fill in the gaps,” archbishop Donald Bolen told CTV National News.

Cowessess First Nation is working with the Church to identify 751 unmarked graves.
Cowessess First Nation is working with the Church to identify 751 unmarked graves. Image from Times News Network

Cowessess says it’s looking into criminal charges for the removal of the headstones, as well as possible charges against those who allegedly abused students, in addition to identifying those who have gone missing.

Debbie Delorme, a Marieval survivor, says she’s relieved to see that work is finally being done.

She told CTV National News, “I’m very proud of all our people who are speaking out and helping the truth come out.”

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Assembly of First Nations that the federal government would continue to help them.

“That’s why we’re appointing a special interlocutor to help advance justice in the case of residential schools while also ensuring that communities conducting burial searches have everything they need,” he stated.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate say they’re working on getting critical residential school records to people faster. The oblates were responsible for 48 schools across Canada, including Cowessess and Kamloops.

Source: CTV News

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