With the confirmation of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School, we at URSU are appalled and outraged at the indignity and the trauma residential schools have caused. We have student members that come from Cowessess First Nation and surrounding communities that went to or knew someone who went to the former Marieval Indian Residential School. We are in solidarity with our colleagues at First Nations University.
As we all mourn and come to terms with the atrocious acts of colonial policies and institutions URSU wants to support our Indigenous members anyway we can. Education is supposed to help strengthen communities and build one’s future, instead these children learned hatred and their families found only silence. We cannot speak for those who are gone and we will not speak for those hurting from the effects of the residential school system. We will speak with them and listen; listen and learn how we can stand with them and support them in receiving answers. We will also work to amplify the voices of those in our community who have been on the ground working to support survivors and bring to light these injustices.
URSU has heard the words of Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme and have taken them to heart. “Stand by us as we heal and we get stronger. We all must put down our ignorance and accidental racism of not addressing the truth that this country has with indigenous people. We are not asking for pity; we are asking for understanding.”
There will likely be more unmarked graves uncovered. The facts are that survivors have been speaking about these issues and the harm caused for decades. Rather than just express shock or centering our own feelings, we will work to orient URSU into actively challenging oppression, while also working to support community efforts on campus and in our community.
If any students, or community members, wish to talk about how this confirmation has affected them, we at URSU are here for you. If you or someone you know has been hurt by the Residential School system, we recommend calling the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419).
URSU Executive Committee