Statement on the discovery of unmarked graves in Cowessess First Nation
Yesterday (June 24) The Cowessess First Nation announced a preliminary finding of 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. In response, Joanne Dallaire, Elder (Ke Shay Hayo) and Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation shared the following message.
A 24-hour national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for survivors and those affected: 1-866-925-4419. For those in the community who are in need of support, the following services are available:
- Medical Centre;
- The Centre for Student Development and Counselling;
- Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services (RASS); and,
- Employee and Family Assistance Program (for faculty and staff).
In the announcement made yesterday, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme stated: “We need time to heal and this country must stand by us.”
This announcement was made less than a month after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were recovered in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia.
To the Indigenous colleagues who are in mourning, my thoughts are with you. To the Indigenous members of our community and across this country, I want you to know that you have my support and the support of the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science (FEAS) community. We stand by you.
I encourage all non-Indigenous members of the FEAS community to reflect on recent events and take time to learn by reviewing:
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s, external link findings and calls to action. Only 8 of the 94 calls to action have been completed, according to a 2020 update by The Yellowhead Institute, external link.
- The work of the Standing Strong Task Force and self-guided learning journey offered by The Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.
Urgent transformative change is needed, there is much to learn and much to accomplish.
The Standing Strong Task Force was established in November 2020 and is set to release their report and recommendations in the Fall of 2021.
The Indigenization and Decolonization Community of Practice series, which is being developed in collaboration with Indigenous campus and external partners, will launch in Fall 2021. It will bring together faculty and staff from FEAS and the Faculty of Science to engage in shared learning, reflection, and action. It is my hope that all members of the FEAS community will find ways to heal, understand, and take action to address our shared history and responsibility.
Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science