Canada and Ontario support Wauzhushk Onigum Nation with almost $2.9 million to locate and commemorate their missing children

From: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The location and confirmation of burials and unmarked graves of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children at former residential school sites across Canada are tragic reminders of the mistreatment of Indigenous children. As part of efforts to address historical wrongs and their continuing present-day harms, the governments of Canada and Ontario are working with residential school Survivors, Indigenous leaders and affected families and communities in Ontario as they embark on the difficult work of finding their missing children who attended residential schools across Ontario.

Today, Chief Chris Skead of the Wauzhushk Onigum Nation, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Honourable Greg Rickford, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs, announced funding of $2,898,430 over three years for the Wauzhushk Onigum Nation to carry out work related to identify burial sites related to St. Mary’s Indian Residential School. Funding will support local research, engagement and knowledge gathering; memorialization and commemoration; and bringing children home. The Wauzhushk Onigum Nation has been guided by Survivors and families and is establishing pathways to working with the many families and communities affected by this former residential school.

The Government of Canada will provide funding of up to $2,498,430 over three years (2021 to 2024) for the project. The province of Ontario is committing up to $400,000 for over two years for 2022-2023 and 2023-2024.

Addressing the harms suffered by Survivors, their families and communities is at the heart of reconciliation. This work is essential as we renew and rebuild our relationships between all Indigenous Peoples, their families and communities, governments, and all Canadians.

Quotes

“Indigenous leaders and communities know best what they need, and we are committed to being there to support them. The Wauzhushk Onigum Nation’s residential school Survivor project and the funding from Canada and Ontario represent the next step to support Indigenous-led, Survivor-centric and culturally sensitive efforts. We will ensure that we will never forget those innocent children lost as a result of colonial policies. This is our continuing collective commitment on the journey of reconciliation.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“We owe it to the countless lost children, Survivors, families and community members impacted by the harms inflicted by the Indian residential school system to spare no effort in continuing to uncover the truth. Ontario commends the leaders of Wauzhushk Onigum Nation’s residential school Survivor project for undertaking this painful, difficult work and is committed to providing whatever types of additional support may be necessary to see it through to completion.”

The Honourable Greg Rickford

Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs

“This funding by Canada and Ontario marks an important beginning in our journey together as governments to discover and document the truth behind the genocidal laws and policies that our Anishinaabe people suffer the consequences of even today. We know this path will be extremely difficult, and we do not know what we will find, but we will be guided by ceremony, by our Anishinaabe laws and protocols, and by our Survivors so we can start understanding how to deal with this trauma. This project will bring much education for the non-Anishinaabe Peoples, so what happened never happens again.”

Chief Chris Skead

Chief of Wauzhushk Onigum

“This project is going to be led by Survivors, their memories, their stories, their individual and collective healing. For decades we have suffered in silence, and some of us still might not want to share. Before reconciliation must come truth. And it is time to uncover the truth. It is time to share with the rest of Canada what happened at these schools, and how it affected us, our parents, our grandparents, our children, and our future generations to come. It is time to honour the children, honour their memories, and make sure this never happens again under any colonial law or policy whatsoever.”

Survivor of St. Mary’s Indian Residential School

Elder, Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation

Quick facts

  • On August 10, 2021, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs announced $83 million in additional investments to support First Nation, Inuit and Metis Survivors, their families and communities.

  • This supplements the $33.8 million announced in Budget 2019, for a total investment of $116.8 million responding to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76.

  • A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students. You can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. There is also the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310, including an online chat function through their website.

  • In June 2021, Ontario committed $10 million over three years to support the identification and commemoration of Indian Residential School burial sites.

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