Statement re: Residential Schools

Trigger Warning: Upsetting content

Yesterday, we heard the disturbing news of the discovery of additional unmarked graves, with 751 Indigenous children and adults found by the Cowessess First Nation at the former Marieval Indian Residential School. This is in addition to the mass graves found in other parts of Canada and in the United States.

215 found in Kamloops, British Columbia

104 found in Brandon, Manitoba

38 found in Regina, Saskatchewan

35 found in Lestock, Saskatchewan

180 found in Carlisle, Pennsylvania

1323 lives. 

These schools were just some of more than 130 compulsory boarding schools funded by the Canadian government and run by religious authorities during the 19th and 20th Centuries with the aim of assimilating Indigenous youth. 

An estimated 4,000+ children died while attending these schools, due in large part to the squalid health conditions inside. Students were often housed in poorly built, poorly heated, and unsanitary facilities, and were mentally, physically and sexually abused. The mortality rates at some schools surpassed 60 percent at times. These atrocities spanned more than 130 years. 

Between 1863 and 1997, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their families and placed in these schools throughout Canada. The children were not allowed to speak their language, practice their culture or spiritual beliefs, and were mistreated and abused. 

The Nipissing University Student Union would like to express their heartfelt support to all Indigenous peoples and to the intergenerational survivors of the Indian residential schools; however, condolences are not enough. We condemn the unspeakable treatment, abuse, and murder of Indigenous children and call for a thorough investigation of these deaths, as well as the undocumented deaths of thousands of other children. It is our responsibility to take action and commit to reconciliation. 

As the search continues for the remains of Indigenous children at residential school sites across Turtle Island, we call on the federal and provincial governments, and church authorities, to acknowledge the cultural genocide that has taken place on this land and to commit the resources necessary for these investigations.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Report was published in 2015, outlining 94 Calls to Action. This report can be read at 

These atrocities took place very recently. Survivors of these residential schools have shared their stories and continue to share them. In the TRC Report, many survivors shared their horrific experiences at the hands of these schools, and the ongoing trauma they still encounter. 

Today, Indigenous populations have no access to clean water. Indigenous communities face food insecurity and financial hardship. Women, girls and two-spirit people are going missing or are being murdered. The discrimination against the Indigenous peoples is continuous and ever-growing. 

Settlers: Please amplify Indigenous voices, educate yourself about Indigenous issues and donate to Indigenous organizations. You can read first-hand accounts from survivors of residential schools here

For Indigenous students and community members, please access support here: 

  • Nipissing University Student Counselling Services | [email protected]

  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society
    1 (800) 721 0066

  • Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program
    24 hour crisis line: 1 (866) 925 4419

  • Hope for Wellness
    24 hour line: 1 (855) 242 3310
    Available in English + French
    Also available (on request) in Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut
  • Talk4Healing (Northern Ontario)
    24 hour line: 1 (855) 554 4325
    This is for Indigenous women, available in 14 languages across Ontario