The Saskatchewan government has pledged $2 million to fund searches for historic residential school sites in the province. Don McMorris, Minister of First Nations, Métis, and Northern Affairs, made the announcement during a news conference on Friday afternoon.
“It is apparent that inquiry and exploration into unreported deaths and graves in Saskatchewan must be carried out,” McMorris said. “It will be a difficult and painful journey for all of us, but it is one we must do together because it is the right thing to do.”
McMorris stated that the funds will be distributed to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which represents 74 Saskatchewan First Nations. McMorris was joined at the news conference on Friday by FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.
Cameron hailed the news but stressed that it is simply the first step toward reconciliation. “It will improve our expectations for the duration of our voyage with our surviving and their descendants. This entire process will be driven by their involvement and advice “Cameron stated in his case.
“We shall not deviate from their advice or direction. It will be a long process, a healing process, and we will see it through.” The FSIN and the provincial government have also requested that the federal government match the province’s investment.
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada did not respond to a request for comment before the deadline. Last month, the Tk’emlps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia confirmed the preliminary discovery of unmarked gravesites holding the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site.
Premier Scott Moe stated earlier this week at a virtual press conference following the annual Western Premier’s Meeting that the province would contribute financing for the search for former residential schools, but he did not provide a cash amount.