On Wednesday, the territorial government released a report containing a complete list of all residential schools, day schools, and residences in the Northwest Territories from 1862 to 2021.
Drawing from government records, historical accounts, news reports, academic theses, and monographs sourced through the NWT Archives, the report is intended to help provide clarity to researchers, former students, and families who have questions about the history of residential schools in the Northwest Territories.
“The NWT had a far higher percentage of Indigenous people attend residential schools than anywhere else in Canada," said RJ Simpson, minister of education, culture and employment, in a news release.
"To help support the work of reconciliation and healing, the GNWT has examined its own files to identify any information it has that can help communities study and document their own residential school history. This report is a resource for communities wishing to undertake residential school research.”
The report focuses specifically on administrative data, and contains a chronological timeline of schools in each community in the NWT, a brief history of each, and how the institutions received funding. It also notes whether the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has listed any deceased students that went to the school, and which organizations were responsible for running the schools.
The GNWT provided first access to the report to Indigenous governments through the Council of Leaders – a group of Indigenous leaders and territorial government leaders – before releasing it to the public.
"By working with Indigenous leadership as part of the Council of Leaders we are committed to providing support however we can," said Premier Caroline Cochrane. "There is a great deal of work that remains to address reconciliation in the Northwest Territories and Canada, and we continue to move forward. And while it will be long, and at times difficult, we are committed every step of the way."
The report also contains references and guidelines to aid further study.
"I know that for many people in the territory, this is not history – it is lived experience," said Simpson.
Former residential school students can call 1 (866) 925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.
The Hope for Wellness Help Line is also available to survivors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and for anyone in crisis. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1 (855) 242-3310 or connect to the online chat.
Caitrin Pilkington, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio