The AMC encourages the City of Brandon to honour child victims of the Brandon Indian Residential School

Brandon's residential school

August 28, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba



Treaty One Territory, MBManitoba residents may be surprised to learn about the dark, lasting legacy of the Brandon Indian Residential School. Researcher Katherine Nichols found that 51 children died while attending the school. They were buried nearby.

“These innocent children lie in unmarked graves. People are camping on these graves in an RV park. This is unacceptable,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC). “It is imperative that the City of Brandon work towards truth and reconciliation by ensuring that these children are identified and given a proper burial.”

Cemetary cairn
This cairn and plaque once marked the spot of children who died while in the Brandon Indian Residential School. Flood waters displaced it from the children’s resting place in the Turtle Crossing RV Park.

One of the students who survived the school, Alfred Kirkness, lobbied for years for a proper burial site for his classmates who had passed away. He was not successful in getting help from any level of government. The Rotary Club and Girl Guides agreed to erect a cairn and fence around one of the school’s burial sites, close to the Assiniboine River. Due to flooding, the cairn has moved and the commemorative plaque is now missing.

 “History hasn’t been properly acknowledged when it comes to the Brandon Indian Residential School,” explained Grand Chief Dumas. “We need to remember these children by ensuring that each one of them has a marked grave. What are the names of these children? Are their families looking for them? Do the people staying at the RV park know the disturbing truth, that they may be sleeping on unmarked graves?”

 “The City of Brandon needs to reach out to the families to find out how they want to move forward,” said Grand Chief Dumas. “We cannot forget these innocent children and we must not forget the dark, lasting legacy of residential schools in Manitoba.”

 The AMC encourages the City of Brandon and Mark and Joan Kovatch, the owners of the Turtle Crossing RV Park, to move forward on Call to Action #75 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Call to Action #75 states:

 We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.