Statement regarding the discovery of human remains at the former Lebret Industrial School

January 13, 2023

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre is deeply saddened by the announcement yesterday, by the Star Blanket Cree Nation, of the location of a child’s remains and 2,000 hits by ground penetrating radar at the former Lebret Industrial School in Saskatchewan.

We send our sincere condolences and support to Chief Michael Starr and members of the Nation, as well as to all First Nations and Métis Peoples whose lives were impacted by the school. And we honour the child whose remains were discovered as part of the investigation. 

The Lebret Industrial School operated under various names, including Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School, St. Paul’s and Whitecalf, between 1884 and 1998. It was operated by the Roman Catholic Church until 1973, at which time administration was transferred to the Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School Council. The Star Blanket Cree Nation took over in 1984.

The Centre echoes Chief Starr’s call for accountability from governments, churches and other colonial institutions, and stands in solidarity with Star Blanket and other Nations in their calls for justice in relation to the former Indian residential school system. Discoveries of unmarked burials and human remains take an enormous emotional toll on First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. No family should be left in the dark as to what happened to their loved ones—especially when those family members were only children. 

The Centre also wishes to acknowledge the impacts that ongoing searches have on all Indigenous peoples and communities, and to encourage Survivors and community members to seek the care they need through this challenging time. The Indian Residential School Survivor Support Society has established a 24-hour Crisis Line for former students and their families: 1-866-925-4419. Find additional wellness resources and supports.