Missing Children and Burial Information (71-76): Current Problems


July 22, 2021

Appeal to International Criminal Court

Appeal to International Criminal Court

Nunantsiaq News: Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq and her fellow NDP MP Charlie Angus held a press conference on Parliament Hill Thursday to ask federal Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti to reach out to the International Criminal Court to launch an investigation into a system they said “represents a crime against humanity.” “We need a full and independent investigation that has the power to shine a light on every facet of this national crime, and has the power to bring perpetrators to justice,” Qaqqaq said.
Qaqqaq said an investigation should extend beyond just residential schools to examine any institution that Indigenous people were forced to attend, providing the example of southern sanatoriums Inuit were sent to between the 1940s and 1960s to recover from tuberculosis. “There are possibly hundreds, if not thousands, of Inuit [buried] outside of sanatoriums across the country,” she said.

February 15, 2022

Discoveries of unmarked graves at Residential Schools

Fort Pelly IRS and St. Philip’s IRS

Toronto Star – The discovery of 54 potential graves of children forced to attend two residential schools on Keeseekoose First Nation land was announced to a silent gathering of community members and media… Meanwhile, Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said the Catholic Church, and others who ran the school, must turn the records over to help identify any possible remains.Ground-penetrating radar was used to locate the graves at Fort Pelly Residential School, which was open from 1905 to 1913, and St. Philip’s Residential School, open from 1927 to 1969. The institutions were located on the First Nation’s land near Kamsack. Both schools were run by the Catholic Church.

According to project leader and former chief Ted Quewezance, the radar hit 42 potential graves at the Fort Pelly site and 12 at St. Philip’s. Headstones without names once stood there, Quewezance said. Why the headstones were removed is a question the community wants answered. 

He said there may be more graves not yet detected because snow forced the search to be halted.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation says St. Philip’s Residential School had a widespread problem with sexual and physical abuse, which led to the dismissal of a school supervisor over the mistreatment of students.

The centre has a record of two student deaths at that school and two at Fort Pelly.

April 21, 2022

Discoveries of unmarked graves at Residential Schools

Gordon’s Indian Residential School

George Gordon First Nation

Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism: Officials with the George Gordon First Nation released details of possible burials found at the former Gordon’s Indian Residential School on Wednesday afternoon.

The search began with four areas of interest identified last fall, and through Ground Penetrating Radar 14 possible burial sites were located.

“In upcoming months, this area will be a priority,” Chief of the George Gordon First Nation Byron Bitternose said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “It is my hope that one day we will be able to tell our children the whole story of what their great grandparents, grandparents, parents and siblings endured.”

Chief Bitternose added the work is far from complete. “Until then, we ask the larger communities to respect this time as we work to alleviate emotional and spiritual impact this day has on our community.” It was noted at the news conference by Sarah Longman, a member of the George Gordon First Nation, the next steps will include expanding the search area, and added this will likely be a 10-year journey to complete the process.

The school was established by the Anglican Church of Canada in 1888 and operated until 1996, making it one of the longest-running residential schools.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has a record of 49 student deaths there and the commission’s final report called the school one of the worst run in the entire residential system.

June 1, 2021

Discoveries of unmarked graves at Residential Schools

Muskowekwan Indian Residential School

CTV News – In 2018 and 2019, the First Nation worked with the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta to use ground-penetrating radar to find unmarked or unidentified graves of children who attended the school.

Through that process, along with water line construction done in the 1990’s, the First Nation has identified at least 35 graves. It said there are likely more still waiting to be found.

“Our elders have told us that there’s a lot of areas here that haven’t been explored and eventually we will do that,” Cynthia Desjarlais, a councillor on Muskowekwan First Nation, said at the ceremony on Tuesday. She said the universities will come back to explore more of the land, but there have been delays due to funding and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and the Saskatchewan government are calling on the federal government to help fund radar ground searches at residential schools in Saskatchewan. “Then we deal with the findings. Obviously closure and that healing journey would continue for so many families,” FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said. Cameron said he’s proud of Saskatchewan for being one of the first regions to “hit the ground running” with organizing radar ground searching and to have the support of the premier.

“We met and discussed [on Monday] with three radar ground search companies who are ready to do the work,” Cameron said.