751: Reflecting on an entire community who lost generations of their children


751 children who never returned to their families.

Hundreds of families who never saw their children again.

An entire community who lost generations of their children.

But this is just one community, and this is just the beginning: over the coming months and years, similar unmarked burial grounds will be exposed at Indian residential schools across the country as Indigenous Peoples demand justice for our stolen children.

These are not “discoveries”; instead, they are confirmation of what Indigenous Peoples have always known — like the contemporary phenomenon of missing and murdered Indigenous Peoples, our children were “disappeared” at residential schools, their deaths secreted away in unmarked graves.

This knowledge has been shared through stories in our families. In my family, it’s a story about how nimosôm (my grandfather) dug graves for other children during his time at St. Bernard’s Indian Residential School in Grouard, Alberta. It’s absolutely chilling to me to imagine my young grandfather digging graves for children just like him — burying his own and likely wondering if some day he might not end up in one of these graves.

We have always known — the rest of Canada is just catching up with us.

We at Brock University extend our deepest condolences to the Cowessess First Nation, and all Indigenous nations, communities and people who mourn the loss of their children in Indian residential schools.

As with my statement following the announcement from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, I want to reiterate my message to Indigenous students, staff and faculty at Brock University: This is excruciatingly painful, but we will walk this journey together. To support this, I will begin working with my colleagues within the institution to organize talking circles where we can come together virtually and process our grief. And as COVID-19 restrictions lift, I hope to bring us together in ceremony. Please take care of yourselves and each other.

Dr. Robyn Bourgeois

Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

Additional resources and support are available at:

Brock Aboriginal Support Services

Niagara Regional Native Centre

Niagara Chapter – Native Women Inc.

Brock University’s Employee and Family Assistance Program

Human Rights and Equity Office

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