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Cowessess First Nation to receive federal cash to help identify 751 unmarked graves

In June, the First Nation discovered what could be as many as 751 unmarked graves near the former Marieval Indian Residential School. File Photo

The Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan is starting to put names to unmarked graves discovered at a former residential school site and the federal government says it will help fund the effort.

About $703,000 over three years is being given to the community’s gravesite reclamation project.

Read more: Discovery of unmarked graves chosen as The Canadian Press news story of 2021

The money is to go toward research, archival and statement gathering, additional fieldwork, commemorative markers, electronic mapping of all marked and unmarked graves, and a monument.

In June, the First Nation discovered what could be as many as 751 unmarked graves near the former Marieval Indian Residential School, which operated from 1899 to 1997, and was run by the Roman Catholic Church until 1968.

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Chief Cadmus Delorme previously told The Canadian Press that 300 graves have been identified, and not all of those buried are believed to be children.

Delorme said the funding from Ottawa will help Cowessess reach its goal.

“The end goal is to identify a name for each unmarked grave, and will be a place to honour the ones who went before us and provide a place of healing for ones impacted by the unmarked graves,” Delorme said in statement Wednesday.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said it’s important to identify and honour those in the unmarked graves.

“We cannot forget how the horrific legacy of colonialism through residential schools continues to this day, and that we must support communities in their efforts by implementing the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s call to action,” she said in a statement.

Click to play video: 'Backpack display in Regina in memory unmarked graves at residential schools being donated'
Backpack display in Regina in memory unmarked graves at residential schools being donated

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