Permanent grave markers to be installed at former Regina residential school site

Orange markers will stand in the Regina Indian Industrial School (RIIS) Heritage Site to mark the place of every child buried in the cemetery.

The steel signs were donated by the Pasqua First Nation to help make sure the souls, at the site just two kilometres away from where the residential school stood, will never be forgotten.

Chris Scribe, whose grandfather attended residential school, says the markers help tell the truth of what happened to those children.

“It means a lot that we recognize our ancestors, it means a lot that we recognize the truth of where we are, and the truth of our histories for Indigenous people on this land and this territory,” said Scribe. “A lot of people never knew, and opportunities to be a part of things like this, it brings that knowing, that truth forward.”

Scribe says it’s hard to comprehend how there’s graveyards at schools. Something that people are only starting to realize now.

He adds seeing is believing for a lot of people, and these markers show these tragedies were real.

“None of us in Saskatchewan know what a hurricane is, and if you’ve actually been in one, if you’ve seen it, if you’ve been there, and you’ve been a part of that, you really know what it is. Up until that point it doesn’t seem real,” said Scribe. “This is what this does, is it makes it real. When we visually see these markers, when we know that we’re putting them up, when we’re putting 40 of these markers down, it’s reminding us that this happened.”

The RIIS Heritage Site was first searched in 2012, when ground penetrating radar discovered 32 anomalies, another search found 6 more in 2014.

Chair of the RIIS Commemorative Association, Sarah Longman says the search for more unmarked graves isn’t over.

“When you come out to visit the site, we ask you come here with the knowledge and understanding that we’re not done,” said Longman. “And that perhaps, the ground that we’re standing on, or the ground that you’re sitting on, or the ground that you’re driving on, may actually be a spot.”

All 38 markers are set to be set up by National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, with the Pasqua First Nation offering to make more markers for other grave sites in the country.

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