Statement regarding the location of plausible burials at the former St. Mary’s Indian Residential School

January 17, 2023

It is with heavy hearts that the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre releases a second statement today, less than a week after the previous one, regarding the location of unmarked burials at a former Indian residential school.

Today, we are deeply saddened by the announcement of the Wauzhushk Onigum Nation, which in its search using ground-penetrating radar for unmarked burials at the former St. Mary’s Indian Residential Schoolin Kenora, Ontario has detected more than 170 anomalies.

The former St. Mary’s Indian Residential School was operated by the Roman Catholic Church from 1897 to 1972. According to the most recent records of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at least 36 students died while attending the school, although the actual number may be higher.

As we grieve, we extend our heartfelt condolences and support to Chief Chris Skead and members of the Wauzhushk Onigum Nation, the entire Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3, the Kaatagoging Survivors group, and the family members of all who attended and were impacted by the former school.  

We walk alongside Wauzhushk Onigum people in their ongoing investigation and future searches, and support the Nation’s call for resources and commitments, including funding, wellness supports, and accountability from the federal government, to continue this important work in uncovering the full truth.

The Centre 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.