Cowessess First Nation gets federal funding for gravesite monitoring

By: Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase
The federal government will partner with a nation in Saskatchewan to try to bring some closure for those who experienced the horrors of Residential School by finally commemorating, locating and identifying the gravesites of missing children near the former Marieval Residential School.
Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme and federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Marc Miller jointly announced funding of $703,230 over three years for the community’s Gravesite Reclamation project, following the tragic news in June that as many as 751 unmarked graves were located near the former Residential School building.
“Cowessess First Nation moved forward to honour the unmarked graves at the former Roman Catholic Church-run grave site located beside the Marieval Residential School,” Delorme said. “The end goal is to identify a name for each unmarked grave, and will be a place to honour the ones who went before us and provide a place of healing for ones impacted by the unmarked graves. The Cowessess First Nation’s technical and research team continue towards this end goal. This investment on behalf of Canada will assure we get to our end goal.”
As part of efforts to address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the horrific legacy of Residential Schools, the federal government is working with Survivors, Indigenous leaders, and affected families and communities, including Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.
“As we reflect on the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we remember the significance of the day in commemorating the history and ongoing impacts of residential schools. Canadians are beginning to understand and recognize the tragic legacy these schools have left,” said Miller. “Our hearts are with Cowessess First Nation as they search for their missing children and continue on their healing journey.”
Survivors, intergenerational Survivors, knowledge keepers and leaders will continue the work that has already started on researching, commemorating, locating and identifying the gravesites of missing children at the Marieval site. During the next three years, work will progress on research, archival and statement gathering, additional fieldwork, commemorative markers, electronic mapping of all marked and unmarked graves, and a monument.
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu lamented the colonial policies of past governments that brought us to this point – and said the important work of righting past wrongs will continue.
“As Cowessess First Nation undertakes their important work of identifying and honouring those in unmarked graves, we cannot forget how the horrific legacy of colonialism through Residential Schools continues to this day, and that we must support communities in their efforts by implementing the Truth & Reconciliation Commissions’ Calls to Action.”