Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe pushing for investigation into Indian Residential Schools


Zachary Orchard, of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation on the Manitoba and Ontario border, listens during a ceremony and vigil for the 215 children whose remains were found buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, Monday, June 21, 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

AKWESASNE (WWTI) — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Tribal Council has joined an international effort to urge for a complete investigation into Indian Residential Schools.

This investigation specifically is calling for a complete review and investigation of the accountability of Indian Residential Schools as remains of Indigenous children continues to be discovered across Canada and the United States.

This is being led by advocacy groups, tribal communities and agencies in both countries.

The Tribal Council stated that this investigation first started with the discovery of 215 unmarked graves of First Nations children at the Kamloop Indian Residential School in British Columbia in May 2021. The number of graves found at this sight has now increased to 1,363.

The Council claimed that will 139 residential schools located in Canada and 365 Indian Boarding Schools located in the United States, groups expect more discoveries to be made.

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe advocates released the following statements regarding the issue:

Beginning in the early-1800, both Canada and the United States forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families and communities in an attempt to assimilate them into western society. At distant schools, Indigenous children were separated from everything associated with their cultural identity, which often included being violently reprimanded for speaking their own Native language as they struggled to learn a foreign one.

According to Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, approximately 150,000 Indigenous children were abducted and relocated to residential schools between 1883 until 1996. It is estimated that up to 6,000 of the children who were forced to attend Canadian residential schools went missing. This includes the remains of 751 Indigenous children that were discovered on June 24th at the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, Canada.

With the majority of the residential schools located in the United States, it is estimated that upwards of 450,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend — though there is no clear estimate on the number of children who never came home. It is clear however, that the abuse and violence committed against them during their time at the schools have contributed to the intergenerational trauma that Indigenous communities continue to experience today.

As we continue to learn the full extent of the residential school atrocities, the Tribal Council is demanding a full investigation and accountability for the shared policies of genocide that took place across both countries. In the meantime, we extend our hearts and our services to residential school survivors and to those families whose loved ones never came home.

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