Sol Mamakwa MPP for Kiiwetinoong

Government of Ontario

Mamakwa to convene Indigenous specialists and leaders list on residential school searches

Published on June 6, 2021

SIOUX LOOKOUT — Sol Mamakwa, the NDP critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, has written a letter to Premier Doug Ford and Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford to offer a list of Indigenous specialists and leaders to come together to advise on and participate in the search of former residential school properties. Mamakwa is in the process of building that list, in consultation with Indigenous leaders and community members. On Tuesday, Rickford confirmed that the province is aware of at least 426 children who died at residential schools in Ontario, and at least a dozen burial grounds.

Hon. Greg Rickford
Ministry of Indigenous Affairs
Suite 400, 160 Bloor St. E.
Toronto, ON M7A 2E6
Via email: [email protected]

Hon. Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Via email: [email protected]

June 9, 2021

Dear Minister Rickford and Premier Ford,

I am writing to you today on behalf of the residential school survivors, family members of those who went to residential schools, and our community members.

In light of the government’s commitment to locate the burial sites of Indigenous children around the province in a manner that is Indigenous-led and rises above politics, I am convening a list of Indigenous specialists and leaders who will come together to figure out next steps. This undertaking must be done in ceremony and in a good way. Our children deserve nothing less.

Finding and locating our lost children is a sacred responsibility for our Peoples and must be led by First Nations communities and leaders. Given the amount of trauma and death associated with the schools and the cascading result on generations of our families, there is no other choice.

After reading Minister Rickford’s comments in the media, I hope the government understands this. I am also aware the minister told CTV last night that there are 426 children who died in Ontario residential schools, and that there are at least a dozen burial grounds. If this has been known, why has there been no commitment to act before now?

The approaches by Canadian governments – including Ontario – on this matter must be Indigenous-led, community-based, Survivor-centric and culturally sensitive. I would like to be very clear: unilateral decisions by the government of Ontario in this regard are unacceptable to Indigenous people. First Nations Peoples have the knowledge, experience, and technical expertise to lend to this process.

We must begin immediate and decisive action for the children who are still missing from St. Anne’s, Pelican Lake, and McIntosh Indian Residential Schools, and at others across Ontario.

I am available to discuss next steps with you when you are available.


(Original signed)

Sol Mamakwa
MPP Kiiwetinoong