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Statement on the discovery of unmarked graves in Cowessess First Nation

Warning: the following statement contains references to recent disturbing news and the ongoing legacy of residential schools.

Today, we learned of the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. While we await further information, it is expected that the discovery may be over three times higher than the 215 bodies of children recently found in Kamloops.

We honour the children who never came home and our hearts go out to their families, all Survivors of the residential school systems and Indigenous communities everywhere.

This painful discovery comes at a time when we are having vital and difficult conversations across the country and within our communities here at Queen’s. As a centre for learning, we must hold space for the Indigenous community at Queen’s at the same time as ensuring that we engage in serious self-reflection on the ongoing impacts of Canada’s colonial history.

In keeping with our commitment to reconciliation flowing from the recommendations of Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission task force and our Friendship Wampum covenant with local Indigenous communities, we send our condolences to the Cowessess First Nations and all those affected.

Flags on campus have been lowered to acknowledge the loss of these hundreds of children and the devastating impact on their families and communities.

We recognize that this news may trigger trauma for many Indigenous members of our community, especially those with close personal or family ties to experiences in the residential schools. Those seeking support may wish to contact the Office of Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation or Four Directions, both on campus. For immediate assistance, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Hotline can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice Chancellor

Rahswahérha Mark Green
Provost and Vice Principal (Academic)

Kanonhsyonne Janice C. Hill (Jan)
Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation)
Office of Indigenous Initiatives