She made a stop at Saint Stephen’s Anglican Church, and Chakastaypasin band Chief Calvin Sanderson said Simon laid tobacco on the graves to honour them.
“It’s also an honour to see the Governor General come from far, from Ottawa,” Sanderson said.
He added it was emotional having her come out to the gravesites.
A gathering then took place at Bernard Constant Community School, where chiefs, students and community members got together, and drumming and dancing took place.
James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns thanked those who came, and said gatherings like what was going on at the school are important for healing.
Simon said it was an honour for her to be there, and said this was an opportunity for her to speak with the community.
She said she spoke with some of the family members affected by the stabbings, saying that getting to talk face-to-face with them gave her a better understanding.
“You hear it on the news, you hear the different things that are happening, but it’s never quite the same if you’re not talking face-to-face with people that are being affected by such a horrendous event,” Simon said.
“Today has been a very important day for me, because I came here, and I understand much more about what the community is going through.
“So my message when I go back is, as much as we are supporting the community now, we will need to have ongoing support for the community over the long term. Because this kind of trauma and grief doesn’t go away very easily.”
She added that she’ll be encouraging those in Ottawa to create the kind of support that the JSCN community needs.
“And this is not something that’s just happening today, here, in this community. A lack of services in mental health has been a very long, ongoing process,” Simon said.
“And it just shows when this kind of trauma and event happens, we need more support for all Canadians. This is an area that we need to work together as Canadians to provide the kind of support that we need.”
Simon said Indigenous communities have been hit hard, whether it be from the pandemic or trauma from residential schools and intergenerational trauma. She added things like mental health, education, social services and housing were intertwined.
When asked about her thoughts about calls for a healing lodge on JSCN, Simon said she supported it.
“Whatever the community needs, I am supporting that.”