Statement on Discovery of Unmarked Graves at the former Marieval Residential School

Posted On Friday June 25, 2021

The latest confirmation, from Cowessess First Nation, of unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School is tragic but not surprising. Residential School Survivors, through their testimony at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, have stated that friends and family members numbering in the thousands did not return home from these institutions.  We recognize that as this truth continues to be confirmed, there will be ongoing media attention. The sharing of this information may be retraumatizing, particularly for those who identify as Indigenous. 

As we reflect upon the evidence of the ongoing genocide carried out against Indigenous peoples of this land, the DDSB is committed to upholding the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and fulfilling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action in the prioritization of Indigenous Inherent Rights. 

The Indigenous Education Department has provided support documents to schools on how to respond to conversations about this issue in classrooms or workplaces as they arise. These resources were designed to support learning opportunities focused on accurate histories and truths, in order to ensure the safety of Indigenous students and families within these conversations.  We are also reminded to review and activate the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in all DDSB schools, classrooms and workplaces.  

Indigenous staff, students, families and community members may access supports and resources through the following:

  • The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419;
  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society: 1-800-721-0066;
  • Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645;
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868;
  • First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310;
  • Native Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-877-209-1266;
  • Durham Mental Health- 1-800-742-1890; and 
  • Support for students can also be accessed through DDSB Inclusive Student Services.  

For staff and educators who would like more information related to these confirmations, please visit

True reconciliation requires consistent and ongoing action to address and dismantle the ongoing legacies of colonialism that continue to affect the rights of Indigenous people today.  The Durham District School Board is committed to upholding the Inherent Rights of Indigenous staff, students and families and taking concrete actions to impact change.  

Our thoughts are with Indigenous community members at this time.