The site of a former residential school in Winnipeg is set to become a memorial to its students’ legacy.
The Assiniboia Residential School, which operated between 1958 and 1973, was located on Academy Road in the River Heights area. It was Manitoba’s first residential high school, and one of only a few urban residential schools in the country.
More than 750 students from 83 communities across the province attended the school.
Chief David Monias of Pimicikamak Cree Nation said a monument at the site, which will feature the names of those students and communities, will act as a reminder of ongoing, systemic harm to Indigenous people.
“People say, ‘You’ve got to get over it,’ but it’s hard to get over it,” Monias said at a ground-breaking for the memorial Thursday.
“These things still happen to our people. Many of our people are in jail. Many of our children are in care.
“It’s still happening, and we have to change that.”
The province, which is contributing $25,000 to the project and working with the Assiniboia Residential School Legacy Group (ARSLG) on the public memorial, said it will serve as a reminder of the legacy of residential schools and help ensure that history won’t be forgotten.
“This new memorial will honour the resilience and legacy of the students who attended the Assiniboia Residential School and will serve as an important site to commemorate the children who were lost to their families and communities,” said Alan Lagimodiere, Indigenous reconciliation and northern relations minister.
Rosa Walker, a board member of the ARSLG, said the organization — which was formed after a 2017 reunion and includes survivors, family and community members — wants to see those who attended the school honoured and their experiences to be acknowledged.
“It’s incumbent upon all of us, as governments, communities and individuals, to ensure our history — this truth — is captured and never forgotten,” Walker said.
“This site is for all of us.”