Government of Canada recognizes the National Historic Significance of the Former Shingwauk Residential School

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Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced, the designation of the Former Shingwauk (Pronounced: Zhing-waak) Indian Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, as a national historic site under the National Program of Historical Commemoration. Photo Credit: University of Toronto - Centre for Indigenous Studies

TAKING CARE: We recognize this comes at a difficult time for many and that our efforts to honour victims and families may act as an unwelcome reminder to those who have suffered hardships through generations of government policies that were harmful to Indigenous peoples. A National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students. You can access emotional crisis referral services.

Please call the Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 if you or someone you know is triggered while reading this.

We encourage all those who need some support at this time to reach out and know that support is always there for you through the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 (toll-free) or the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also find information on how to obtain other health supports from the Government of Canada website.

OTTAWA, ON, July 8, 2021 /CNW/ – Residential schools were part of a shameful and racist colonial policy that removed Indigenous children from their communities and denied them their families, language and culture.  These institutions have had enduring negative impacts on First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities, cultures, economies, traditional knowledge and ways of life, languages, family structures, and connections to the land.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced, the designation of the Former Shingwauk (Pronounced: Zhing-waak) Indian Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, as a national historic site under the National Program of Historical Commemoration.

“We have had a painful reminder recently, with the location of unmarked graves at the former Kamloops, Marieval, and other residential schools, that the Residential School System is a tragic and shameful period in Canada’s history that continues to have profound impacts to this day. One of the few remaining residential school buildings in Canada, the former Shingwauk residential school stands as a testament to its impact on Survivors, their families and the community. The Government of Canada is acknowledging the past and, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples and communities, is committed to sharing the experiences of Indigenous children in these schools to ensure that this history is remembered and these stories are told. In doing so, we hope to foster better understanding of our shared history as we walk the path of reconciliation together.” – The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

The Former Shingwauk Indian Residential School is located on Robinson-Huron Treaty Territory within the traditional homelands of Anishinaabe and Métis peoples, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. During its operation from 1875 to 1970, more than a thousand Indigenous children from Ontario, Quebec, the Prairies, and the Northwest Territories attended Shingwauk Indian Residential School. It is one of the few surviving residential school sites where a number of preserved built and landscape elements continue to testify to the long history of the residential school system in Canada. Among these, the Shingwauk Cemetery contains 109 known burials, including 72 students who died between 1875 and 1956.

“As we move forward in this important time, with this important story, the story of so many survivors and intergenerational survivors, and sadly, those who never made it home, we believe the national recognition of the Shingwauk site will help preserve that story, so it is never lost. With the news of the Kamloops and Cowessess children revealing themselves to us, it is a reminder of the important work that we must do here on the Shingwauk site with our survivors and our site partners, so that this does not happen to another child again. Chi miigwetch/thank you for distinguishing such an important place for the Indigenous people of this land.” –  Jay Jones, President of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association

Since the institution’s closure, its site and main building (Shingwauk Hall) have been used for cultural reclamation, cross-cultural education and learning, and reinterpreted as a place for healing and reconciliation. The former residential school property encompasses the present campus of Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and Algoma University. The Shingwauk Education Trust, Anglican Church and the Algoma District School Board also have a shared responsibility for areas of the site. Parks Canada worked in collaboration with the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre to tell the stories of Survivors and determine the historic values of the site.

The experiences of former students and Survivors of the Shingwauk residential school and other residential schools across Canada continue to affect generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis families and communities. These designations are an important part of the Government of Canada’s response to Call to Action 79 of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Survivors and descendants of the survivors of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School are still experiencing the pain and consequences of attending the school. With the Shingwauk Indian Residential School being designated a national historic site, we are acting upon the TRC Call to Action 79 and continuing to work with Indigenous peoples to progress reconciliation in a meaningful way.” – Terry Sheehan MP Sault Ste. Marie and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedNor)

National historic designations are the result of nominations to the National Program of Historical Commemoration. They commemorate all aspects of Canadian history, both positive and negative. While some designations recall moments of greatness and triumph, others encourage reflection of the tragic, complex and challenging moments and experiences that define the Canada of today. In sharing these stories, Canadians have opportunities to learn about the full scope of our shared history, including the difficult periods that are part of our past and have shaped our present-day.