President McCallum Appoints Lead on Métis Children and Residential School Graves
June 25, 2021- In response to recent discoveries of unmarked graves of residential school children, President Glen McCallum has designated Vice President Michelle LeClair as the lead for Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN–S) on this vital issue.
The discoveries of graves in Kamloops and on Cowessess First Nation have been deeply painful for Métis families in Saskatchewan. Vice President LeClair will work with First Nations, governments and churches but also with communities and families to find the graves and, crucially, to support the grief and healing that will come from this process.
Children are our sacred gift. Métis children attended boarding schools, day schools, and residential schools throughout Saskatchewan run by the federal government, the churches, and the provincial government. Many children never returned to their families, and some are likely among the children in the newly discovered graves.
Métis Nation–Saskatchewan continues to partner with Survivors of the Île–à–la–Crosse Boarding School steering committee and advance their concerns, including the search for lost children and unmarked graves.
We want to find out what happened to our lost children and ensure they are properly memorialized. MN–S been working in partnership with First Nations on this issue, but recent discoveries have added urgency. As fresh wounds are opened for our families, Vice President LeClair will lead the work on behalf of MN–S of helping families cope with our present grief and to develop processes and events in the longer term, so the Métis Nation ensures their memory and stories are sustained.
The Government of Canada created residential schools in Western Canada in partnership with the churches. The federal government considered Métis among the “dangerous classes” but wanted the cost and responsibility of educating them to be held by the territorial, and later provincial, government. Nevertheless, Métis children were sometimes allowed, sometimes forced, to attend the federally funded schools alongside First Nations children throughout the province of Saskatchewan. (see Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – Volume 3: Métis.
Despite this, the Métis Nation was not a part of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. Métis children also attended residential and day schools run by the Province of Saskatchewan, schools that were not recognized in the settlement. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission acknowledged that the history of Métis children at residential schools issue is still unresolved.
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