Lac Seul nation gets funding for gravesite research

·2 min read

The Lac Seul First Nation in northwestern Ontario will begin the long, arduous process of identifying and commemorating the bodies of children buried near the former Pelican Bay Residential School site after they reached a funding agreement with the federal government this week.

The federal government will contribute $1 million to the project, Lac Seul Chief Clifford Bull and federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Marc Miller announced jointly late last week.

"‪Lac Seul and its partners are very pleased with the positive outcome of the proposal. The Bringing Our Children Home Initiative received funding from Canada, and this funding will support positive relationships throughout our area to bring closure with respect to the missing children who never returned home,” Bull said.

The funding comes at the end of a year of reckoning for federal officials faced with the horrors of the colonial policies that spawned the establishment of Residential Schools for Indigenous children, many of whom never returned home.

In a statement to the media, the Crown-Indigenous Relations department said the government has made the identification and commemoration of those children a priority.

‘The locating of unmarked graves at former Residential School sites across Canada is a tragic reminder of the abuse that many Indigenous people have experienced,’ the statement said. ‘The government of Canada is working with survivors, Indigenous leaders and affected families and communities as part of efforts to address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the legacy of Residential Schools.’

Miller said the entire legacy of that shameful period in history must be examined and his department will be there to support Indigenous people in this difficult time.

“We will be there to support communities like ‪Lac Seul First Nation to research what happened at former residential schools, including Pelican Lake Residential School,” he said. “Our thoughts are with those Indigenous children who never returned home, the Survivors, families and communities as they embark on this difficult journey, mourn and heal.”

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase

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