Indian Residential School

The Sovereign Chiefs of the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta have begun an extended mourning period in honour of our children that have been and continue to be located in the mass graves of former Residential Schools, Day Schools and Indian Hospitals throughout Canada.

The discoveries continue and the numbers will grow confirming and validating what survivors have been sharing for so long.

The federal government continues to fight Residential School Survivors in court. The federal government has deflected, shifted blame, and refused to acknowledge responsibility in creating, funding, and facilitating this program of genocide. Instead, offering sentiments that in their words, the federal government continues to refer to what they did to our people as “cultural genocide.” A safe statement that is not punishable in the colonial court system.

The highest concentration of Residential Schools in Canada were in Treaty 8 territory. Of the 25 Residential Schools in Alberta, 11 were in Treaty 8. What has not been considered is many schools were relocated during their operation – there could be multiple burial sites. Residential Schools are not the only sites we should be looking to for our kin. Day Schools, where Indigenous children faced similar horrors, were also in operation across this country and of course, the Charles Camsell Hospital. The hospital is in Edmonton, where members of Treaty 8 were sent for ‘medical treatments’. Many Indigenous Peoples were instead experimented on, sterilized, tortured, murdered and buried in unmarked graves.

We will not allow the federal government to avoid accountability of committing genocide – the deliberate, systemic mass murder of our people. We call upon:

  • The federal government to provide all means necessary to support and fund the search for our missing children.
  • Provincial and Territorial governments to release all records and information for cemetery/burial sites at residential schools, day schools and Indian hospitals.
  • All church institutions to release all information or records, which would assist in the discovery of any of our missing children.
  • Federal governments and all church institutions to accept responsibility for their role in the genocide of our people.

We will develop a plan to search our own lands for our children. There is no trust in other levels of government and churches to assist, we fear they would contaminate the findings or claim no remains found. The federal government announced 27 million over three years to bring our children home. It is insufficient and will not cover the costs to uncover the lost children across the country. We are requesting a comprehensive plan to repatriate our relatives and give them the proper burials they deserve. We want the full cooperation and support of all levels of government, the churches, landowners, and industry to work with us as we develop and implement our plan for healing.

The United Nations (UN) has joined us in our request to uncover and disclose residential school records. Canada is a founding member of the United Nations and has stated, “since the foundation of the UN, Canada has been firmly committed to the promotion of human rights within Canada and around the world.” The federal government must be held accountable to their own standards. Canada has projected an image of peacekeeping and humanitarianism around the world. Yet, simultaneously, they fight the victims of residential schools in court, destroy records of government funded genocide, and dismiss their responsibility in perpetuating genocide.

The 11 Indian Residential Schools within Treaty 8 Territory are:

  • Assumption (Hay Lakes) Assumption, AB
  • St Martin’s Roman Catholic – Desmarais, AB
  • St John’s Anglican – Wabasca, AB
  • St Henry’s – Fort Vermillion, AB
  • St. Bernard’s – Grouard, AB
  • St. Bruno’s – Joussard, AB
  • Holy Angel’s – Fort Chipewyan, AB
  • St. Peter’s – Slave Lake, AB
  • St Augustine – Smoky River, AB
  • St Francis Xavier – Calais, AB
  • St. Andrew’s – Whitefish First Nation, AB

This list does not include the Day Schools, Industrial Schools or Indian Hospitals, they are on the radar.

If you have experiences with Indian Residential Schools, Day Schools, and/or Indian Hospitals in our territories, we would like to hear from you. Through this analysis we can better understand the impacts our peoples are experiencing and our Sovereign Nations can seek accountability and change.

Or, if you prefer to speak to someone rather than provide details here, please email dnapio@treaty8.org or sgladue@treaty8.org or call (780) 444-9633 and ask for Dion Napio or Shelly Gladue. If you have questions or concerns about confidentiality please email or phone at the contact above.

Treaty No. 8 guarantees our way of life, our livelihood and a continuity of our way of life and livelihood.

* Message from Grand Chief Arthur Noskey, Grand Chief of Justice Allan Adam, and Chief Sidney Halcrow.

This message has been approved by the Sovereign Nations of Treaty No. 8



The Next Step

After more than a decade of fighting in court, a proposed settlement agreement for Residential School Day Scholars has been reached. Now the question becomes: what comes next?

Day Scholars / Survivor Class Members are people who attended federal residentials schools as students during the day only but did not sleep there overnight. The Descendant Class Members are the children of Day Scholars.

Every eligible Day Scholar Survivor will be able to make a claim for a $10,000 payment to compensate them for loss of their Indigenous language and culture. For eligible Day Scholars who were alive as of May 30, 2005, but have died since, one of their heirs can make a claim on behalf of their estate. Canada will also pay $50 million to establish the Day Scholars Revitalization Fund for the benefit of the Day Scholars and their Descendants. Those eligible for compensation under the settlement must have attended (or be the child of someone who attended) one of the schools on the “Schedule E” list of residential schools that could have had Day Scholars. This information can be found at JusticeForDayScholars.com.

But before compensation can begin, the Court needs to approve the settlement. The settlement will be approved if a judge determines that it is fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the Survivor and Descendant Classes. If approved, the settlement will ensure compensation for Day Scholars and their children in their lifetimes. This decision will come after the settlement approval hearing, which begins on September 7, 2021.

Day Scholar Survivor and Descendant Class Members have the right to tell the judge what they think about the settlement, either before or during the settlement approval hearing. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Day Scholar Survivor and Descendant Class Members can write their views. Please provide written statements to Class Counsel (the lawyers for the Class Members) on or before August 20, 2021, in order to ensure that your statement will be sent to the judge before the settlement approval hearing begins; or
  2. Day Scholar Survivor and Descendant Class Members can speak their views during the settlement approval hearing in September. While we will try to accommodate any class member who requests to speak, we can only guarantee a spot to those who register by August 30, 2021.

This is completely optional and participating in the settlement approval process will not impact one’s ability to receive compensation. The judge will take all submissions into consideration before deciding whether or not to approve the settlement. The next step starts at JusticeForDayScholars.com or by calling Class Counsel (Waddell Phillips) at 1-888-222-6845.