Parks Canada Statement to SON Regarding Unmarked Graves at Residential Schools and Canada Day

Parks Canada Statement to SON Regarding Unmarked Graves at Residential Schools and Canada Day

Updated by Kurt Kivell - June 28th at 3:20pm
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Picture of the Bruce Peninsula National Park Sign (Parks Canada)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       
28 June 2021                          

The Environment Office of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation has received a statement from John Haselmayer, Superintendent - Fathom Five National Marine Park and Bruce Peninsula National Park (Parks Canada), regarding their plans for Canada Day, considering the tragic, and still unfolding, discovery of unmarked graves on the grounds of yet another residential school.

The statement reads:“Boozhoo Chiefs, SON Parks Team and working group,In the wake of the tragic discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the Cowessess First Nation, I wanted to reach out to you to say that your partners at Parks Canada stand with you, your community, and Indigenous people across the country.  We are profoundly saddened by this news.  This morning, we held an all-staff call to bring our team together to acknowledge this news and to open a space for conversation.  At that meeting, Janna [Chegahno, Chippewas of Nawash Member,] spoke eloquently and powerfully about the trauma caused by the residential school system and other institutions, and how that trauma is passed across generations.  Although it is impossible to ever truly understand the lived experiences of others, Janna’s words helped us all to better appreciate how this news impacts residential school survivors and their descendants, and the SON communities. A lot of us on the Parks Canada team are asking ourselves today ‘where do we go from here?’  Although that is a very difficult question with no simple answers, we are grateful for the partnership and collaboration that we share with you and for the help we receive to move in the right directions.  I can tell you that July 1st will not be a day of celebration for us, but instead a day of deep reflection as we ponder what it means to be employees of Parks Canada at this time.Chi miigwech,
John [Haselmayer]”

In response to this statement the Manager of Infrastructure & Resources at the Environment Office of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, Doran Ritchie, whose team liaises with the Park said, “my personal reflection is that our federal partners are choosing not to celebrate Canada day despite their mandate to promote Canada. To me, this is a strong indication of true partnership and a great sign of our existing relationship with Parks Canada.” 

John Haselmayer’s statement comes at a time when municipalities in the area are still deciding on just how they will handle Canada Day Celebrations this year, in light of the recent public discoveries of unmarked mass graves of Indigenous children murdered by Canada’s residential school system. In a joint effort with Chief Nadjiwon and Councilor Miptoon Chegahno of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, Lion’s Head has postponed their Canada Day celebrations and will host a walk to honour the lives of those impacted by the residential school system in Canada. Details of the walk are available on the Lion’s Head facebook page. The Town of South Bruce Peninsula has also decided to cancel their fireworks and Canada Day celebrations. The City of Owen Sound, however, is moving forward with their Canada Day Celebrations as planned, despite calls for the city to cancel planned events.

For more information regarding the Saugeen Ojibway Nation’s partnership with Parks Canada, or to discuss anything about the park, please contact Emily Martin, Infrastructure & Resources Associate at the Environment Office.

Emily Martin
Infrastructure & Resources Associate
(519) 534-5507