The unmarked graves of an estimated 751 people have been discovered at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan on Thursday. The number could be the most substantial to date found in Canada.

The news came less than a month after the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation uncovered evidence of unmarked graves containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. There are certain to be more revelations.

These discoveries reopen old wounds about the lack of transparency and accountability around the residential school system in Canada, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families and subjected them to malnutrition and physical and sexual abuse. These residential schools and unmarked graves represent the systemic racism and discrimination of Canada’s past and the effects are still felt today.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pushed the Vatican to make an official apology for the Catholic Church’s role in the system. Pope Francis said in early June that he was pained by the Kamloops revelation and called for respect for the rights and cultures of native peoples. But he stopped short of the direct apology.

IUOE Local 793 stands with Indigenous people, both across the country and within our Union membership, as they call for action to bring truth and reconciliation to address the horrific tragedies that occurred at Canada’s residential schools.

Indigenous History in Canada
Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action