The City of Winnipeg will study the next steps to search for unmarked graves at the grounds of a former residential school.
On Wednesday night, council’s executive policy committee unanimously approved a motion to have city staff report on searching the grounds of the former Assiniboia Indian Residential School "or other sites as appropriate."
While the motion does not commit the city to fund a search, Mayor Brian Bowman told the Free Press he would not rule that option out, despite hoping senior governments will cover the cost.
"While the discussion is occurring at the federal and provincial level about the examination of grounds for the remains of children, what I’m trying to communicate is, if other levels of government won’t act, we will," said Bowman, who raised the motion.
The motion calls for city staff to consult with Indigenous organizations and senior governments on how best to proceed.
Ottawa has announced $27 million for communities to conduct such searches, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford has committed $10 million. Alberta’s provincial government plans to announce its own funding plan to locate unmarked graves soon.
Bowman said the city’s work on the topic is an important part of its reconciliation efforts, as it will highlight the full impact of residential schools.
"I think for reconciliation, you have to have the truth… and so this is about uncovering the truth about residential schools," he said.
The decision comes as public outrage grows across Canada after the unmarked remains of 215 children were found at the former Kamloops, B.C. residential school in late May.
The Assiniboia Indian Residential School operated at 615 Academy Rd. from 1958 to 1973.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.