751 unmarked graves on site of former Saskatchewan residential

Published June 25, 2021

Content warning: The following statement references Canada’s residential school system 

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. 

  • The emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
  • The Indian Residential School Survivors Society offers a crisis line for grief, crisis, and trauma counselling: 1-800-721-0066

Less than a month after the news of 215 Indigenous children who were killed and buried in a mass grave in a residential school in Kamloops, we now hear of the devastating and crushing news of 751 unmarked graves. The remains were found on the grounds of a former residential school in the hamlet of Marieval, located in the Qu’Appelle Valley of Saskatchewan, which only closed in 1997. 

These newly found graves add to the number of thousands of indigenous children killed in these schools. This news continues to create generations of trauma, lost legacies, cultural knowledge, grief, and mourning that will not be forgotten. 

Canada once had 139 of these institutions spread across the country, and hundreds of more unmarked graves and burial sites are located at these schools. We call on our government to commit to supporting  Indigenous efforts at these sites and deliver justice for the lost children, survivors and communities. 

We need to stop calling this Canada’s colonial history, this is happening in our country right now.

Colonialism in Canada is stripping Indigenous peoples of their resources, land, language, and culture. Colonial violence and harm done against Indigenous communities remain a reality today.  We need to support and listen to Indigenous voices, as we repeatedly fail Indigenous people in Canada. 

Art galleries and museums are not exempt from perpetuating and benefitting from white settler colonialism. As the visual arts sector, we must remain diligent in reconciliation and decolonization work in our institutions, communities, and take tangible actions. 

What We Can Do

  • Learn more about residential schools and the devastating impact on communities and generations of Indigenous Peoples or take a free course on Indigenous histories and contemporary issues through the University of Alberta;
  • Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and commit to ways your organization will be accountable. This call to action was published in 2015, and only 8 of the 94 calls have currently been met. Read analysis from the Yellowhead Institute about the lack of action. 
  • Advocate to the federal government to ensure the Calls to Action are implemented and demand that there are examinations of all former residential school properties;
  • Donate to an Indigenous museum, cultural centre, community, or Indigenous support organizations that help residential school survivors today. See the list below for some organizations you can donate to;
  • Educate yourself about the land we now call Canada. Here is an interactive map to look up the territorial land, languages, and treaties. Find out more about where you live here;
  • Join Indigenous Canada, a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that explores Indigenous histories and key issues facing Indigenous peoples today;
  • For more information and action, visit the Settlers Take Action page of the On Canada Project.

Donate to Indigenous organizations

Educating yourself (Lists put together by Platform)

Land Acknowledgement

Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries is located on the ancestral and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnabeg, and the Huron-Wendat. This territory is part of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant and is also covered by the Upper Canada Treaties.