‘Putting names to the unmarked graves’: Chief Cadmus Delorme pledges to identify those who never made it home

It has been one year since Cowessess First Nation announced the discovery of 751 disturbances in what is believed to be unmarked serious, of more than just Residential School children.

The goal for Cowessess First Nation Chief, Cadmus Delorme, is now to discover who lays in the ground at Marieval Indian Residential School.

“Some children who attended Marieval Residential School were buried there. Also, there’s adults, also there’s non-indigenous there. If you were Roman Catholic at the time, that was your community grave site,” he said.

“So now moving forward, we’re treating all 751 to the end goal of putting names to the unmarked graves and to putting a marker there. We are giving special attention to, what we’re validating as children who never made it home from residential school.”

Though the announcement to the world was made a year ago, Delorme stresses that the First Nation people have been carrying this burden much longer.

“Cowessess First Nation has been on a healing journey for many years. A year ago, we validated and shared publicly what many always knew, were the unmarked graves, we just didn’t know the number.”

Ground penetrating radar was used to discover the disturbances in June of 2021.

On Thursday, a private event saw people from around the country gather in Regina to share their knowledge for investigating unmarked graves in Canada.

“Archeologists, archivists, historians, community members, knowledge keepers, it’s just bring everyone together who is working through research and investigation into unmarked burials,” Jesse Boiteau, senior archivist for the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, said.

While the center wants to help discover and uncover the truths at these former schools, Boiteau explained that they want to ensure the communities are the ones leading the investigations.

“We’re just here to help in any way that we can, often times, that is providing access to records, but it might be in providing advice on building community archives,” Boiteau said.

However, for Cowessess, and Delorme in particular, the journey of healing and truth are necessary, but the reconciliation piece is just as vital, for past, current, and future generations.

“My daughter is Indigenous, she has to try twice as hard to reap half the benefits. We truly inherited this, but we all have a responsibility that Indigenous people must be a part of the growth and included without oppressing our Indigenous ideology.”

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