Statements from President McCauley and Vice-Provost Dr. Hart

Read the UCalgary statements addressing the news of 751 unmarked graves on the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan

Statement from President McCauley

The discovery of more unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, in the shadows of an earlier discovery of unmarked Indigenous graves at another institution in B.C., is deeply disturbing. No doubt, there will be further discoveries of more unmarked graves at other residential schools throughout Canada.

A school should be a place of caring, curiosity and inspiration — where one goes to thrive. As an educator, Canada’s shameful residential school history — and the damage it causes to generations upon generations of families — is painful to process. This pain deserves to be respected. We must not shy away from it because it is difficult. Such actions will not only avoid the pain, but the learning of the impacts of residential schools that are with us today. We need to open our hearts despite the difficulties of truths being revealed to those of us who have not seen it earlier. We must give the time and energy needed to understand, learn, and grow from this experience. 

I recommit that the University of Calgary will continue to learn the truths shared by Indigenous peoples and place meaningful reconciliation at the heart of what we do. We must listen to Indigenous communities as they share their experiences of colonialism. We must call out racism when we see it. We must reflect on how we are impacting others who have been marginalized. We must ensure the University of Calgary is a place where Indigenous people feel part of the community. We must act differently in all our practices, so we can respectfully walk with Indigenous people and communities through these difficult times, and toward something better for everyone.

 

Ed McCauley

President and Vice-Chancellor


Statement from Dr. Michael Hart

As we learn that more unmarked graves have been found at another former residential school, I am again saddened. Only a few weeks ago, many members of the university community and some of our wider community peers came together in a sharing circle in memory of the 215 children – tragically found in unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Now we know that Cowessess First Nation has found potentially 751 people buried in unmarked graves at a cemetery near the Marieval Residential School site in southeastern Saskatchewan. There are almost certainly more graves to be found at other residential schools across Canada. As members of Indigenous communities share their stories related to children who attended these institutions and went missing, this profound pain and deep emotions that I and my Indigenous relations live with are only now being recognized by others. This pain and these emotions impact us all, whether directly or indirectly. They are influencing us as we strive to fulfill our commitment to move forward on a parallel journey in a good way. 

The knowledge of the many who have been hidden away in unmarked graves and how they came to be hidden is part of the truthing that is needed for reconciliation to be meaningful. This pain and the emotions that arise are part of the truth. It is real. Without respecting those experiencing this pain and these emotions, healing is all-the-more difficult for everyone. Indeed, our collective efforts for change will fall short. It is why the work we do is so important. We must remember the children, the lives taken, and to be open to the truth being shared by Indigenous people. We must remember that this truthing is not just about “them”, or something that happened a long time ago. It is not something that people just get over. What happened then, in the recent past, shapes us now. It is part of us. Through our openness to the many feelings we are experiencing, our self-reflections, and our active efforts, we will be better able to walk together on our parallel paths.

 

Dr. Michael Hart 

Vice Provost (Indigenous Engagement)


Supports Available for Those Struggling with the Residential School Announcements

As we learn more of unmarked graves near former residential schools, we remember the children, their families and their communities and carry these losses in our hearts. The news is heartbreaking and disturbing. Anyone wanting additional support to manage their response to this devastating news is encouraged to ask for assistance and seek out additional resources.

The following resources and support are available to support our campus community at this time.

For information on UCalgary’s Indigenous Strategy, go to: https://www.ucalgary.ca/indigenous.