WLUFA Statement on ongoing confirmation of unmarked graves at Residential Schools

With the recent confirmation of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School on the territory of the Cowessess First Nation, WLUFA asks members to take action to support survivors and Indigenous peoples.

While many are reacting with dismay or shock, former Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Chair Murray Sinclair estimated earlier this month that thousands more unmarked graves will be uncovered. Releasing statements alone does not go far enough, and as Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said, ” …the bureaucracy of the government of Canada and the province have a lot of work yet to do.” The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has called for former Residential Schools to be deemed crime scenes, and for criminal charges to be laid on the architects of and those involved in the creation and administration of Residential Schools. Marion Buller, former chief commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, challenged the federal government to move beyond its “very well-crafted statement of sympathy and empathy” in reaction to the findings at Marieval, and instead prove their commitment to these issues “with concrete action, including the release of documents related to residential schools.

WLUFA recognizes that statement-making is not enough. We will be developing a resources page on WLUFA’s website to enable our members to keep informed through links to Indigenous led and created news sources, as well as providing members with suggestions for action including donation links. WLUFA will also make a donation to the Save the Evidence Campaign which works to restore the former Mohawk Institute Residential School into a historic site and educational resource.

If you are a former residential school student or an Indigenous person and you need support at this time, you can call the 24-hour Indian Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419.

Actions and Resources:

WLUFA calls on all members, and the WLU administration and broader community, to:

  1. For non-Indigenous community members, acknowledge the truth about residential schools and ongoing colonial violence. Speak out against people who deny or excuse or justify this violence. Hold your friends, family members, MPPs, MPs, religious leaders, colleagues to account. 
  1. Commit to learning more and educating others about the histories of white supremacy and genocide of Indigenous peoples in the making of this nation we call Canada.
  2. Read the TRC and its 94 recommendations and work to implement them in your own teaching, research, work and service.
  3. Share TRC resources.
  4. Make a donation to Indigenous organizations and movements. WLUFA will be providing some suggestions for these on our new Resources webpage (link to be circulated soon).
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