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Message from Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan about discovery of graves at Cowessess First Nation

In a letter addressed to “First Nations, Métis, Inuit communities; families and citizens” the five bishops of the Catholic dioceses in Saskatchewan June 24 responded to news of the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School at Cowesses First Nation.

Letter from the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan – PDF

Dear First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities; Families and Citizens:

With the news this morning of the location of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School at Cowesses First Nation, the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan acknowledge that this experience is heartbreaking and devastating for all – and especially residential school survivors, their families and communities. We offer our condolences but we know that this is not enough and our words must move to concrete action.

We are here to listen to you as you communicate those ways we can walk with you in addressing the Calls to Action, rebuilding relations, addressing issues of justice, and working towards a more just society.

The discoveries of gravesites near former residential schools opens deep wounds and brings back terrible memories which re-traumatize. While we cannot imagine how difficult the process must be for survivors, intergenerational survivors and their communities, we honour and support the ongoing investigation of such grave-sites.

In the press conference this morning, Chief Cadmus Delorme stated, “the truth is there,” at the cemetery. We need to hear that truth. We have heard you telling us that healing and reconciliation can only come after the hard work of listening to the truth, a spirit of repentance, concrete acts of justice, and working with you to bring transformation and healing. Chief Delorme went on to say: “Everybody has to reset… Investment in healing from the core outwards has to happen. Once the truth has been given and told and accepted, then reconciliation will prevail.”

We are moved by and strongly support this vision, and commit ourselves to walk in solidarity with you, and to stand by you.

May the Creator guide us as we listen to and receive the truth, that we might together take the necessary steps.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Donald Bolen, Archbishop of Regina

Most Rev. Bryan Bayda, Ukrainian Eparchial Bishop of Saskatoon

Most Rev. Murray Chatlain, Archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas

Most Rev. Mark Hagemoen, Bishop of Saskatoon

Most Rev. Stephen Hero, Bishop of Prince Albert

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