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A Statement from Jill Provoe

Executive Director, NSCC Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion

June 25, 2021 – News

“We don’t have to go back, we just have to learn to look after ourselves in a good way.”

These were the words expressed by Elder Florence Sparvier (Cowessess First Nation, Survivor of Marieval Indian Residential School) following news this week of the 751 unmarked graves uncovered near the former Residential School in Saskatchewan.

While words can’t express our heartbreak, we will honour their memories by lowering our flags to half-mast from June 25 to July 2.

We will also be planting a white cedar tree - cedar is a sacred medicine that represents protection - at each campus along with a plaque honouring all victims and Survivors of the Indian residential school system, including those of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School.

Our thoughts are with the Survivors and their families and we stand beside you as you grieve.

It was important to us to give space for this story to unfold from Cowessess First Nation and give time for the information to be processed by all. At the official opening of the IT Campus addition yesterday, Jude Gerrard, Senior Advisor, Mi’kmaw and Indigenous Initiatives, offered a very heartfelt dedication of the smudging to the spirits of those 751 who have been uncovered.

Supports available

As Senator Murray Sinclair stated in the Truth and Reconciliation Final Report, “Education got us into this mess. Education will get us out of it.”

We encourage you to educate yourself and learn more about residential schools by:

There is a lot of pain and trauma being surfaced as a result of this tragic news, including Survivor knowledge of other children not yet found. I hope you will all take care of yourselves and each other and remember the College supports available for employees and students if you need them.

There is also support available through:
  • The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) (Toll-free telephone: 1-800-721-0066).
  • A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
  • The Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Crisis and Referral Centre is available at 1-855-379-2099.
  • For Indigenous staff members who are interested in joining the Indigenous Employee Resource Network (requires employee login), please connect with the network co-chairs.
  • For Indigenous students who would like to join the student network, please reach out to one of our Student Advisors, Indigenous Supports.

President Bureaux noted in his email announcing the new Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion department earlier this week, that, as part of the President’s Office, our team will support the growing momentum to address matters of social justice. And we are committed to doing just that - in the instance of this message and with keeping the conversation moving forward in the days, weeks and months to come - we will bring matters of social justice to light, informing, educating and ensuring all voices are heard.

In the coming weeks, the College will be collecting feedback on the first Indigenous Education Framework that will guide us on the path with reconciliAction.