Statement honouring Cowessess First Nation - June 25, 2021
The identification of 751 unmarked graves at the site of the Marieval Residential School on Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan is having an unmeasurable impact on people across the country, and in our own community. We must recognize the dignity attached to every person’s life and acknowledge the incredible injustice that has taken place that is part of our national history.
We are grieving at the news of this finding. While this information is new for many of us, Indigenous communities have lived with this loss and this knowledge for generations. We acknowledge and honour the experiences of all Survivors of residential schools and their families, and we extend our deepest sympathy and support to them all.
Mohawk College has an obligation to do more than extend our condolences at these times. We have to do all we can to make education safe again for Indigenous people and to continue to actively engage in truth sharing, reconciliation and meaningful change.
To honour the lives lost, there will be a number of events planned and we will make you aware of them as they are organized.
We will also continue to provide our employees and students with opportunities to better understand the difficult history of Indigenous people in Canada.
We are providing additional resources to support the important work of our Indigenous Initiatives, Education and Student Services teams, who continue to support all students and staff. We are actively working with our community partners to offer resources and support, as well.
Many want to respond to this news in an immediate, tangible way. One way you can show your support is through a donation. Our partners at the Woodland Cultural Centre have committed themselves to restoring the Mohawk Institute Residential School, as a way to raise awareness about residential schools and provide educational opportunities to learn about Indigenous histories and realities. They would be a deserving recipient of any contributions at this time. https://woodlandculturalcentre.ca/donate/
We can never allow ourselves to become desensitized to these announcements and we should be attentive to take care of ourselves as we personally process the reality of these stories.
I would like to remind you that if you are distressed or struggling, please reach out to someone you trust. There are resources available if you are seeking help to cope.
- For staff: The Employee Assistance Program, available to all Mohawk College staff through MyMohawk.
- For students: The counselling department can be reached at https://www.mohawkcollege.ca/student-well-being/counselling. You can also contact Empower Me (for all students) 1-833-628-5589 www.studentcare.ca or Good2Talk 1-866-925-5454 www.good2talk.ca.
- For Survivors and their families: The Indian Residential School Survivors Society can be reached toll-free at 1-800-721-0066. There is also a national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.
- If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 911, COAST at 905-972-8338, or go to the nearest emergency department.