The Manitoba government and the First Nations, Inuit and Red River Metis Council on Residential Schools are allocating $ 2.5 million to find and commemorate children who died while attending residential schools, and to promote healing and reconciliation.
Premier Heather Stefanson and Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere made the announcement at an event on Wednesday at the Portage Indian Residential School.
The $ 2.5 million is being allocated to Indigenous governments and organizations.
“Today we are honoring the children who did not return home. They remain on our minds and in our hearts, ”Stefanson said.
“Our thoughts are also with the survivors, families and communities as they continue to mourn and heal while they carry out the heartbreaking work of finding their missing children.”
According to the province, the funds will support initiatives that require participation from Indigenous governments, community organizations, residential school survivors, families, elders, and knowledge keepers.
“We recognize that this work must be Indigenous-led, which is why we’re flowing our financial investment directly to key Indigenous governments and organizations to enhance resources, provide community support and to build structures that prioritize families and survivors,” the premier said. .
The funding will be distributed amongst different groups and organizations, with $ 2 million being shared equally among the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Southern Chief’s Organization. Nearly a quarter of a million dollars will be shared equally between the Manitoba Metis Federation and the Manitoba Inuit Association.
Sioux Valley Dakota Nation will receive $ 60,000 of the allocated funds, and the Southern Chiefs’ organization will hold $ 200,000 to create commemorative gathering places and monuments through an organizing subcommittee.
The allocations were determined through the First Nations, Inuit and Red River Council on Residential Schools, as well as through dialogue with First Nations communities carrying out searches for the burial sites.
Manitoba explained the allocations are based on the council’s agreed principles and priorities, which include the proportional representation of First Nations, Inuit and Metis children who attended residential schools. The allocations were also made based on guidance from communities, families and survivors; and with the hope of bringing together communities with missing children and those conducting active searches.
“It’s very important that leaders acknowledge that the legacy of residential schools continues every single day. Our children are experiencing it every single day, ”said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization.
“Our people when they’re walking in the stores are experiencing racism every single day. The same values, the same mindset that created residential schools, still exists today. It has not gone away. ”
Wednesday’s event included several speakers, including residential school survivors.
“Today you are experiencing, touching, feeling, all the people who went to school here [at the Portage Indian Residential School]”Said Ernie Daniels, a residential school survivor, at Wednesday’s event.
“From the north, from the west, from the east, from the south, they came here, and a lot of them have passed on to the spirit world. But there are a number of us still surviving, still survivors. ”
He added that it’s important to never forget those who never made it home and are buried across the country.
In Manitoba, there are 18 locations of former residential schools, with First Nations people stating their intentions to search 11 of these sites with ground-penetrating radar technology.
The premier noted that efforts show the number of children who died at these schools is much higher than the 338 deaths originally reported in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.