Indigenous camp set up on grounds of Manitoba Legislature, calls for all residential schools to be searched for graves

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On May 27, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were detected at the former Kamloops Indian residential school. Less than a month later, it was announced that 751 unmarked graves were located at another residential school. More such findings are expected.

Now, APTN reports: “A group of Indigenous people plan to camp on the Manitoba legislative grounds in Winnipeg until all former residential school sites in Canada have been searched.”

It adds: “On June 25, the group started a sacred fire and pipe ceremony in honour of residential school survivors. It’s now turned into a long-term commitment: keeping the fire lit until all school sites are searched.”

Camp organizer Aaliya Leach says: “Our sacred fire has been lit to help the sacred spirits of our lost children find their way home.”

Alma Kakikepenace says: “This is a healing effort here.”

And Shawna Peloquin says: “We don’t want to leave our elders mourning alone — our survivors.”

The article notes: “As the group sits on government property, police presence can be frequent. The group says they’ve had negative and disrespectful encounters with police officers in uniform. They’ve asked Winnipeg police to approach their group in plain clothes with no weapons.”

The Winnipeg Sun also notes: “A group of around 20 people have set up a teepee and tents. They’ve made a fire and are offering sacred medicine to anyone grieving the lost children.”

Between 1883 and 1996, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their parents and sent to at least 139 “residential schools” funded by the Canadian state and operated by religious institutions as part of a campaign of forced assimilation.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended: “We call upon the federal government to work with the churches and Aboriginal community leaders to inform the families of children who died at residential schools of the child’s burial location, and to respond to families’ wishes for appropriate commemoration ceremonies and markers, and reburial in home communities where requested.”

The Washington Post recently reported: “The federal government also said it would urgently distribute about $22 million to help Indigenous groups find unmarked graves, identify the missing and commemorate them. The funding was part of $28 million set aside for those purposes in the 2019 federal budget.”

Official records say 3,213 children died in those institutions, but the true number could be as many as 12,000 children.

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