We Are All Treaty People

Statement from the Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan

  • Published - 15/02/2022
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  • Posted By - OTC
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On Feb. 15 came the announcement that confirmed what everyone from the Keeseekoose First Nation already knew to be true. There were unmarked graves. Ground-penetrating radar revealed 54 graves at the sites of Fort Pelly and St. Philip’s Residential schools.

I come from this community; I grew up with these institutions casting a terrible legacy on our nation. I grew up hearing the stories, the oral history. We didn’t look outside at night; we didn’t play near those areas because we knew that bad things were there. The fear was instilled in us and we didn’t go there.

We knew that children died, we knew that children were killed, that there were graves, that children never were seen again. The technology is just helping us to show the rest of Canada what Indigenous people already know.

According to official records, there were two student deaths at St. Philip’s and two at Fort Pelly. The radar found 12 and 42 respectively. Official records also talk about widespread abuse at the former schools, and mistreatment of students at these institutions.

The TRC reported that approximately 3,200 children died in the residential schools. We know as Indigenous people this was not all. Now the rest of the world knows too; it is the truth.

Canadians need to face what has happened in the history of the country. We need to come together and keep speaking and exposing the truth. For reconciliation to happen we must understand the truth.

Our community is now working to identify who are in those graves, and will maintain the site. The goal is to create a virtual museum to house these records and educate.

For the children who never came home, for our children yet to come, may this never happen again.

Mary Culbertson, Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan