Sask. First Nation announces hundreds of unmarked graves found at former residential school site

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing.

The Cowessess First Nation says it has discovered hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. 

A news release Wednesday from Cowessess and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations (FSIN), which represents Saskatchewan’s First Nations, did not give a specific number but said it will be the most found to date in Canada.

Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme and FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron are scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday morning to provide more details of the findings.

Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme will hold a news conference Thursday morning on the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

The Marieval Indian Residential School operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area where Cowessess is now located, about 140 kilometres east of Regina.

The First Nation took over the school’s cemetery from the Catholic church in the 1970s.

The Marieval Indian Residential School operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area where Cowessess is now located. There are already some marked graves at the site. (CBC News)

Earlier this month Cowessess started using ground-penetrating radar to locate unmarked graves. 

Last month the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in B.C. announced the discovery of a burial site adjacent to the former Kamloops Indian Residential School that preliminary findings indicate contains the remains of 215 children.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the news is tragic but not surprising.

“I urge all Canadians to stand with First Nations in this extremely difficult and emotional time,” he posted on Twitter Wednesday evening.


Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports.

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.

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