Manitoba Government Partners With Key Indigenous Governments and Organizations to Allocate $2.5 Million for the Identification, Commemoration and Protection of Burial Sites of Children Who Attended Residential Schools

Press Release

June 15, 2022

The Manitoba government and the First Nations, Inuit and Red River Métis Council on Residential Schools is allocating $2.5 million to Indigenous governments and organizations to co-develop Indigenous-led approaches to find and memorialize missing children and promote collective healing and reconciliatory action, Premier Heather Stefanson and Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere announced today.

“Every child matters, and it is our duty as Manitobans and Canadians to help First Nations, Inuit and Métis reclaim the dignity of these children who were tragically taken from their families and communities because of the residential school system,” said Stefanson. “Today’s announcement reaffirms our government’s commitment to reconcile historic wrongs and work collaboratively with Indigenous families, survivors, leadership and communities to support this important process of truth-telling and healing.”

In June 2021, Manitoba committed $2.5 million in funding to begin the collaborative work to identify and memorialize children who did not return home from residential schools.

“Manitoba recognizes the search for children who died attending residential schools must be Indigenous-led and will require distinctions-based approaches,” said Lagimodiere. “This involves continuous engagement and ongoing collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis leadership, families, survivors, knowledge keepers and elders. We are flowing the funding directly to key Indigenous governments and organizations to enhance resources, support communities and build structures that prioritize families and survivors at the heart of this work. This approach will strengthen community efforts as they lead their own processes.”

Allocated funding will support initiatives requiring extensive participation from Indigenous governments and community organizations, residential school survivors, families, elders and knowledge keepers, the premier noted. The allocations have been determined through the First Nations, Inuit and Red River Métis Council on Residential Schools and in ongoing dialogue with First Nation communities that are carrying out active searches.

“It is time for all levels of government to support First Nation families and communities,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. “We must work to help the spirits of our children come home to rest. It is time to right the wrongs. It is time for our people to author the narrative of our history. It is our history, it is our truth, it is our children, it is our spirit, it is our healing and it is our time to lead. For many years, our elders have told us of the unmarked graves they knew were at residential schools. We now have the ability to bring the truth to light and through technology, we can now help the spirits of our children to rest. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak will continue to honour our children by following our protocols and using our ceremonies that they were denied. When directed by the First Nations, we will work to repatriate the remains of our children who are buried in unmarked graves, away from their home communities. We will work to ensure First Nations have the opportunity to memorialize their children and create commemorations in honour of our ancestors who died at residential schools.”

“This critical work is just the latest example of how we must do all that we possibly can to honour those who attended the residential schools, their families and the thousands of children who never returned home,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, Southern Chiefs’ Organization. “I am pleased to see our relatives and partners, including our treaty partners, coming together to ensure we continue to acknowledge the genocidal history and legacy of the residential schools and locating those who are missing remains a vital component of the truth and reconciliation process.”

The funding will be distributed as follows:

$2 million shared equally among the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization;
$240,000 shared equally between the Manitoba Métis Federation and Manitoba Inuit Association;
$60,000 to Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, an independent First Nation not represented by any other organization, that has worked over the last decade to find children who died attending Brandon Residential School; and
$200,000 to be held by the Southern Chiefs’ Organization to establish commemorative gathering places and monuments through an organizing subcommittee.

These allocations are based on agreed principles, priorities and considerations shared by the council including:

proportional representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children who attended Indian residential schools;
engaging directly with communities, families and survivors for guidance;
bringing together communities with missing children and those with active searches; and
developing commemorative places in support of healing, truth-telling and education.

In Manitoba, there are 18 locations of former residential schools with 11 sites where First Nations have signaled their intention to search or are actively searching using ground-penetrating radar technology. To date, efforts highlight the number of children who died at these schools in Manitoba is much higher than the 338 deaths originally reported by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, noted the premier.

In March 2022, the formation of the First Nations, Inuit and Red River Métis Council on Residential Schools was announced. To learn more, visit

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For more information:

Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
Media requests for general information, contact Communications and Engagement:
Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-451-7109.


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