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July 8, 2021 Ottawa, Ontario Parks Canada Agency
Residential schools were part of a shameful and racist colonial policy that removed Indigenous children from their communities and denied them their families, language and culture. These institutions have had enduring negative impacts on First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities, cultures, economies, traditional knowledge and ways of life, languages, family structures, and connections to the land.
Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced the designation of the Former Muscowequan (Pronounced: Mus-KOW-i-gan) Indian Residential School in Lestock, Saskatchewan, as a national historic site under the National Program of Historical Commemoration.
The former Muscowequan school, located on Muskowekwan First Nation lands within Treaty 4 Territory northeast of Regina, is the last standing residential school in Saskatchewan. The building was constructed in 1930-31 and replaced earlier school buildings dating to the late 1800s. It was saved from demolition by school survivors and community members who see it as an important site that bears witness to the history of residential schools, and hope to repurpose it into a place of commemoration, healing, and cultural learning, and a site of memory for all Canadians. At least 35 unmarked graves have been found on the former school property since the 1990s.
For over a century, children from a number of First Nations in Treaty 4 territory, across Saskatchewan, and elsewhere in Canada were sent to the school. It operated until 1997, making it one of the last residential schools to close in Canada. This former residential school was nominated for designation by Muskowekwan First Nation, who worked with Parks Canada as part of a collaborative process to bring forward the experiences of Survivors and determine the historic values of the site.
The experiences of former students and Survivors of the Muscowequan residential school and other residential schools across Canada continue to affect generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis families and communities. These designations are an important part of the Government of Canada’s response to Call to Action 79 of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
National historic designations are the result of nominations to the National Program of Historical Commemoration. They commemorate all aspects of Canadian history, both positive and negative. While some designations recall moments of greatness and triumph, others encourage reflection of the tragic, complex and challenging moments and experiences that define the Canada of today. In sharing these stories, Canadians have opportunities to learn about the full scope of our shared history, including the difficult periods that are part of our past and have shaped our present-day.