Following a series of emotional presentations, the cemetery at the Regina Indian Industrial School (RIIS) site was declared a municipal heritage site in a unanimous vote by city council Monday.
RIIS operated from 1891 until 1910 just west of Regina. The site of the school and cemetery is along Pinkie Road
During her presentation to council, Chief Lynn Acoose of the Sakimay First Nation said due to poor record keeping at the school, an unknown amount of children attended the institution. Additionally, an unknown amount of people are buried in the cemetery.
Acoose told council that her grandma attended the school.
Mistawais First Nation Chief Daryl Watson said he believes 53 of his band members attended RIIS, and four or five are believed to be buried in the cemetery.
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Mayor Michael Fougere said this is a dark time in Regina’s history, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is shining a light on these periods, and how they impact everyone.
Fougere added that the intent of this heritage designation is to learn more about the cemetery, including what its exact boundaries are and how many children are buried there.
“This is the very least we can do at a very difficult time in our history,” Fougere said.