OTTAWA - Jun 24, 2021 – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the below statement following the announcement by Chief Cadmus Delorme about the work of Cowessess First Nation resulting in locating more than 600 unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.
“First Nations are greatly pained by this latest finding of unmarked graves on the site of an Indian Residential School. We grieve over the many children who never made it home after their forcible removal from their families and people.
We must never forget our children were targeted and placed in a racist system purposely designed to stamp out every aspect of who we are – our languages, our cultures, our teachings. I support Chief Delorme in his call for healing and for an apology from His Holiness, Pope Francis.
The Assembly of First Nations supports all First Nations seeking the truth and the full implementation of all the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I know that First Nations across this country will continue the work to find, honour and commemorate the lost little ones. I call on all governments to support First Nations governments in this work and for all governments and the Catholic Church to respond to calls for resources and for information in their possession.
The families and the nations of all the children who never came home have the right to truth – and to know who lies in these unmarked graves and what happened to them.
First Nations will continue our search for our little ones and to honour and commemorate them.
I thank the many Canadians, and members of the international community, who have written to the Assembly of First Nations to express their condolences and concern.
I pray for healing for all of those impacted by the loss and the discovery of our precious children.
The Assembly of First Nations stands with all who are suffering at this time.”
The National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available for support: 1-866-925-4419.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations people in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde