OTTAWA — Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced the designation of the Former Shingwauk (Pronounced: Zhing-waak) Indian Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, as a national historic site under the National Program of Historical Commemoration.
“As we move forward in this important time, with this important story, the story of so many survivors and intergenerational survivors, and sadly, those who never made it home, we believe the national recognition of the Shingwauk site will help preserve that story, so it is never lost. With the news of the Kamloops and Cowessess children revealing themselves to us, it is a reminder of the important work that we must do here on the Shingwauk site with our survivors and our site partners, so that this does not happen to another child again. Chi miigwetch/thank you for distinguishing such an important place for the Indigenous people of this land,” said Jay Jones, President of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association.
The Former Shingwauk Indian Residential School is located on Robinson-Huron Treaty Territory within the traditional homelands of Anishinaabe and Métis peoples, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. During its operation from 1875 to 1970, more than a thousand Indigenous children from Ontario, Quebec, the Prairies, and the Northwest Territories attended Shingwauk Indian Residential School.
It is one of the few surviving residential school sites where a number of preserved built and landscape elements continue to testify to the long history of the residential school system in Canada. Among these, the Shingwauk Cemetery contains 109 known burials, including 72 students who died between 1875 and 1956.
“We have had a painful reminder recently, with the location of unmarked graves at the former Kamloops, Marieval, and other residential schools, that the Residential School System is a tragic and shameful period in Canada’s history that continues to have profound impacts to this day. One of the few remaining residential school buildings in Canada, the former Shingwauk residential school stands as a testament to its impact on Survivors, their families and the community. The Government of Canada is acknowledging the past and, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples and communities, is committed to sharing the experiences of Indigenous children in these schools to ensure that this history is remembered and these stories are told. In doing so, we hope to foster better understanding of our shared history as we walk the path of reconciliation together,” said Wilkinson.
Since the institution’s closure, its site and main building (Shingwauk Hall) have been used for cultural reclamation, cross-cultural education and learning, and reinterpreted as a place for healing and reconciliation. The former residential school property encompasses the present campus of Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and Algoma University. The Shingwauk Education Trust, Anglican Church and the Algoma District School Board also have a shared responsibility for areas of the site. Parks Canada worked in collaboration with the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre to tell the stories of Survivors and determine the historic values of the site.
The experiences of former students and Survivors of the Shingwauk residential school and other residential schools across Canada continue to affect generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis families and communities.
“Survivors and descendants of the survivors of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School are still experiencing the pain and consequences of attending the school. With the Shingwauk Indian Residential School being designated a national historic site, we are acting upon the TRC Call to Action 79 and continuing to work with Indigenous peoples to progress reconciliation in a meaningful way,” said Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan.