Canada and Ontario support the Garden River First Nation Survivors Projec

Canada and Ontario support the Garden River First Nation Survivors Project

January 27, 2022

Indigenous Affairs

January 27, 2022 — Garden River First Nation, Ontario — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The locating of unmarked burials at former residential school sites across Canada is a tragic reminder of the abuse that many Indigenous children suffered in these institutions. The governments of Canada and Ontario are working with Survivors, Indigenous leaders and affected families and communities to address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the legacy of residential schools. Part of this work includes the efforts to locate and commemorate missing children who attended residential schools, as well as to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 72 to 76.

Garden River First Nation is undertaking work related to burial sites associated with Wawanosh Home for Girls. The community-led initiative, called the Survivors Project, will focus on research and knowledge gathering with Survivors, their families and Knowledge Keepers for commemoration and memorialization projects, and will document and video tape fieldwork investigations using global positioning technology.

In addition, Garden River First Nation will establish a Survivors-based protocol for archival research and for interviews with Survivors and their families that ensures the work will follow spiritual, customary, ethical and religious protocols in relation to burial investigations at the former Shingwauk Residential School grounds and surrounding area. This community-led initiative will ensure Garden River First Nation can undertake this work in their own way and at their own pace.

Today, Chief Andy Rickard of Garden River First Nation; the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations; and the Honourable Greg Rickford, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs, are announcing funding of $1,485,770 in support of the Garden River First Nation Survivors Project to assist with this important work.

Addressing the harms suffered by Survivors, their families and communities is at the heart of reconciliation and is essential to building and renewing relationships with Indigenous Peoples, governments and all Canadians.

Quick Facts

  • Garden River First Nation is an Ojibway community located east of Sault Ste. Marie on the banks of the Garden River, with a population of approximately 2,500.
  • From 2021 to 2024, the Government of Canada is providing support of $785,770 through CIRNAC’s Residential Schools Missing Children – Community Support Funding. The Government of Ontario is providing an additional $700,000 over three years.
  • On August 10, 2021, the Government of Canada announced approximately $320 million in additional support for Indigenous-led, Survivor-centric and culturally informed initiatives and investments to help Indigenous communities respond to—and heal from—the ongoing impacts of residential schools.
  • To date, $116.8 million has been committed to support First Nation, Inuit and Métis Survivors, their families and communities toward locating and commemorating missing children who attended residential schools, responding to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76.
  • On June 15, 2021, the Ontario government announced an initial investment of $10 million to help support the identification, investigation, protection and commemoration of former residential school burial sites across the province.
  • On October 29, 2021, the province announced an investment of more than $36 million in community-led mental health and addictions supports for Indigenous communities across the province, including supports for residential school Survivors and their families.
  • In November 2021, Ontario announced an additional $10 million to support ongoing and future site investigation work though its Fall Economic Statement.
  • National Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students, who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
  • The Hope for Wellness Help Line is also available for Indigenous People at 1-855-242-3310 or via the online chat function through their website.


“For decades, our Elders have talked about the Children who never returned. There has and continues to be significant trauma that our families carry in all aspects of their lives, in particular the spiritual trauma our community has experienced. It’s time for us to bring our own children back to the community so they can be honored properly, so they can rest with their families and the completion of their Spirit Journey. We appreciate and acknowledge the commitment of the federal and provincial governments to begin this important work.”

– Chief Andy Rickard
Garden River First Nation

“The Survivors Project and initiatives lead by Garden River First Nation is important to the past, present and future of our people, as it is key to address the trauma and grief of our families, friends and community. As a direct descendant of a Survivor of Shingwauk Indian Residential School (father), I heard many horrific stories that has impacted my entire life. I heard and lived the traumas and the cycles of abuse that Residential Schools forced upon us. And now I look forward to the actions taking place to address the research of the unmarked graves and to ensure ceremonies will be held for our community. This funding support through the Federal and Provincial governments is a step moving forward.”

– Kristen Jones
Daughter of Marvin Pine, Shingwauk Indian Residential School Survivor

“These important initiatives being planned by Garden River First Nation, including the plans to host ‘bringing-children-home ceremonies’ and creating an album for families that document their children’s school records are part of the crucial efforts needed to find and address the truth. We acknowledge the work undertaken by the leadership of Garden River First Nation to search for the truth and work toward healing for Survivors, their families and the community.”

– The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“Indigenous Peoples and communities across Ontario continue to experience pain, loss and intergenerational trauma due to the residential school system. Ontario is committed to supporting Garden River First Nation’s community-led initiative. This work will help bring healing and closure to Survivors, their families and community members while honouring and commemorating the young lives tragically lost.”

– The Honourable Greg Rickford
Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs

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