An ex-residential school near Lestock, Sask. — an estimated 107 kilometres northeast of Regina, is now a national historic site.
A project led by the Muskowekwan First Nation saw the Muscowequan School, which was the last standing residential school building in Saskatchewan, turn to a national historic site on Thursday.
Built in 1930 and 1931, the school replaced structures that were used from the late 1800s.
A news release from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change revealed survivors and community members wrestled to save the building, as they regarded it as a crucial site that bears witness to the residential schools’ history.
The release declared that community members want to witness the school repurposed into a place of remembrance, healing and cultural learning, and a memory site for all Canadians.
Since 1990, 35 unmarked graves have been found on the residential school’s property states the release.
Muskowekwan First Nation Chief Reginald Bellerose noted in the news release,
“Far too long, our survivors have lived through this dark history without recognition, but today marks a new era of reconciliation and learning.”
“We have suffered too long from this sad chapter in Canadian history which has long-lasting impacts in our communities. We can now speak our truth and have a building that will tell our story from our perspective.”
The administration’s news release recognized the residential school system was a piece of the shameful and racist colonial policy that took Indigenous children from their communities and robbed them of access to family, language, and culture.
The release noted that residential schools had lasting negative impacts on Métis and Inuit communities, First Nation, economies, traditional knowledge, and ways of life, cultures, language, family structure, and attachment to the land.
Turning the former school into a national historic site was part of Canada’s involvement in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.
The release stated it assisted the federal administration in tackling call 79, which urges the government to put in place a national heritage plan and strategy to commemorate residential school sites together with their history and legacy.