STATEMENT ON THE DISCOVERY OF UNMARKED GRAVES AT RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SITE AT COWESSESS FIRST NATION

STATEMENT BY NDP LEADER RYAN MEILI AND BETTY NIPPI-ALBRIGHT, CRITIC FOR FIRST NATIONS AND MÉTIS RELATIONS & TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION, ON THE DISCOVERY OF UNMARKED GRAVES AT RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SITE AT COWESSESS FIRST NATION

REGINA - Like so many people in Saskatchewan and across the country we heard the news of the horrific discovery of unmarked graves at Cowessess First Nation with sadness and anger. Unfortunately we cannot say that this discovery is a surprise but it remains deeply, deeply shocking. 

This will not be the only grim discovery in this province and as we grapple with the truth of these deaths. We cannot let ourselves become desensitized. 

We cannot look away. We have to face these horrors head on and take real, meaningful and swift action on Truth and Reconciliation. Thoughts and prayers are simply not enough.

We must, as a province and as a country, do everything we can to support residential school survivors and the Indigenous communities that continue to experience generational trauma from the legacy of the residential school system. As a start we have to have immediate mental health supports put in place for communities both on and off reserve. 

This is a time to grieve for the hundreds of lost souls, to reflect on the wrongs perpetrated against Indigenous peoples - both in the past and continuing today  - and to actively listen to those communities about what actions need to be taken to begin the long process of healing. 

There is no reconciliation without truth and we cannot begin to repair the damage that has been done or the systemic racism that continues to persist today without acknowledging this dark and real part of our history. 

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The Indian Residential School Survivors Society has a toll free line 1 (800) 721-0066 and a 24 hour Crisis Line 1 (866) 925-4419 if you require further emotional support or assistance. 

There will also be a Saskatchewan number starting this afternoon - 306-522-7494