FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW)

March 1, 2022

EDMONTON –  IAAW wishes to issue the following statement on the graves discovered at the former St. Bernard’s (Grouard) Indian Residential School site in northern Alberta.

It has been nine months since the remains of over 200 children was discovered on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. 

This week 169 more sites were identified, this time in Alberta at the site of the former St. Bernard’s Indian Residential School near Grouard, Alberta.   This discovery is further evidence to corroborate what Indigenous communities have been saying for decades:  that hundreds of Indigenous children died while they were kept at Indian Residential Schools.  

Researchers have commented that the 169 discovered grave sites are unmarked.  This means that the confirmed identity of the lost loved ones remains unknown.  

We share in the grief expressed by Chief Halcrow of the Kapawe’no First Nation and Grand Chief Arthur Noskey, Treaty 8 First Nations.  The wounds created by the discovery of remains at former Indian Residential School sites across Canada are deep and lasting.  These wounds are continuously reopened each time we hear the news that more grave sites have been found.

To date, more than 1,800 confirmed or suspected unmarked graves have been identified at former Indian Residential School sites across Canada.  And while each discovery means more pain and grief, it is evident that investigations of all former School properties is necessary in order to uncover the full truth and to acknowledge those lost lives.

On behalf of the board, staff, and volunteers, we express our concern and compassion for the spirits of the lost children, their families, communities, and Nations.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you through this difficult time.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day at 1-800-721-0066 for those feeling pain or distress as result of residential school experiences.