Cape Breton Post

Canadians must dig deep


The news out of Saskatchew­an on Thursday was saddening and troubling — 751 unmarked graves near a former residentia­l school.

This discovery comes weeks after the remains of 215 children were found at the site of another former residentia­l school in Kamloops, B.C.

The Saskatchew­an graves were located using ground-penetratin­g radar at the Cowessess First Nation.

Now, the painful process of trying to identify the remains begins. Sadly, these efforts could take a long time.

“It’s going to hurt in the coming months because the more we put names to them, the more that it is going to reopen some of the pains that many endured at the Marieval Residentia­l School,” Chief Cadmus Delorme said during a virtual news conference.


It is impossible to know the devastatio­n and grief felt by his people and how the process of identifyin­g the remains will affect them. It is also difficult to know how to help or react. Delorme’s request was a simple one.

“We are not asking for pity, but we are asking for understand­ing,” he said. “We need time to heal, and this country must stand by us.”

As shamed Canadians do that, they must brace for other such discoverie­s.

After the remains were found in Kamloops, Justice Murray Sinclair, former senator and chair of the Truth and Reconcilia­tion Commission, estimated there could be 15,000 or 20,000 Indigenous children in unmarked graves across the country. We are at the beginning of a painful point for non-indigenous Canadians — a pain long felt by First Nations. It must also be a turning point. Canadians have been hearing about reconcilia­tion for several years, but with these discoverie­s — and what they say about how Indigenous people and cultures were treated — the people of this country must be active participan­ts in that process.

That means coming to terms with the injustices of the past, as painful as it is to acknowledg­e and reconcile what’s been described as cultural genocide.


It also means learning the history of Indigenous people, respecting their cultures and rights, and partnering with them to build a better country that supports self-governance.

Becoming familiar with the Truth and Reconcilia­tion Commission’s reports, findings and calls to action is a good first step down this path. The commission’s work provides a better understand­ing and appreciati­on of the past and outlines several measures that need to happen. You can find this work at

Reconcilin­g will take a lot of heavy lifting and deep thinking, more for some than others. Much of the effort will be challengin­g. All of it will be enlighteni­ng. But this simply must happen or there will forever be a chasm between this country and its Indigenous people. Future generation­s deserve better — a lot better than we’ve done in the past.

“We asking are for not

pity, but we

are asking for


We need time to

heal, and this

country must

stand by us.” Chief Cadmus Delorme

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