751 unmarked graves found at site of former Marieval Residential School near Broadview

A photo of the former Marieval Indian Residential School, which was located about 24 kilometres of Broadview. (Photo: Société historique de Saint-Boniface)

After announcing the grisly discovery Wednesday afternoon, the FSIN and Cowessess First Nation say 751 unmarked graves have been discovered on the site where the Marieval Indian Residential School once was.

The discovery comes less than a month after 215 bodies were found on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., which prompted more searches to begin around Canada.

All the graves are currently unmarked.

The discovery was made with ground penetrating radar, which means there is about a ten percent margin of error, that means at the very least 600 unmarked graves are on the site, according to Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme.

The discovery is believed to include bodies of both children and adults.

Chief Delorme said they believe some headstones were once there, but they were removed by the Catholic church in the 1960’s, and never put back.

Delorme also said they always knew bodies were on the site.

He said the church needs to own up to its role in these deaths.

“The Pope needs to apologize for what has happened to the Marieval Residential School impact on Cowessess First Nation survivors and descendants,” said Delorme. “An apology is one stage of many in the healing journey.”

Delorme hopes the government and the church will release the records, so that bodies can be identified and graves can be properly marked.

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said the world now knows what took place in Canada, saying the Residential School system was no better than German concentration camps.

“This was a crime against humanity, an assault on First Nations people,” said Cameron “We are proud people, the only crime we ever committed as children was being born Indigenous. We are seeing the results of the genocide Canada committed, genocide on our Treaty Land. We will find more bodies, and we will not stop until we find all of our children.”

Chief Cameron added that moving forward, Canada will be known as nation who tried to exterminate the First Nations.

As the bodies start being identified, Chief Delorme said the pain will only increase for the families finding out the fate of their loved ones.

He mentioned this is a moment where the country needs to stand together to make things better.

“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,” said Delorme. “We are not asking for pity, but we are asking for understanding. We need time to heal, and this country must stand by us.”


The Marieval Residential School was in operation from 1898 until 1996.

It was located about 24 kilometres north of Broadview.


Political Leaders Respond:

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters offered her deepest condolences in a statement issued Thursday morning.

“I ask all residents to care for one another in the collective grieving of lives lost and for Indigenous people and children treated without humanity,” said Masters. “The City of Regina extends our support for the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing of Cowessess First Nation, the community throughout Treaty 4 Territory, and across Canada.”

“These unmarked graves are a part of the Truth we are asked to witness and learn about. We must listen to Indigenous leaders, elders and knowledgekeepers and follow their guidance as we face the truth and take action towards reconciliation,” said Masters. “Part of the action all of us can participate in moving forward is making space to understand more about the history of indigenous people, people who are our neighbors, our family, and our friends”.

Masters said in the statement that she has reached out to Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme to offer condolences, and mentioned that City Hall flags have been lowered to half-mast to honour those lost.

Premier Scott Moe responded to the news Wednesday night.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted his reaction to Twitter Thursday morning.

{With files from Josh Sigurdson}

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