Ontario offers just 15% of what was needed to search former Mohawk Institute

SIX NATIONS — The Ontario government is providing $1,300,000 to the Survivors’ Secretariat at the Six Nations of the Grand River to search for unmarked graves at the former Mohawk Institute – just 15% of the $9 million the Secretariat told the PC’s was needed to do the work.

The $1.3 million will be dispersed over three years and is part of the $20 million earmarked by Ontario to fund the searches of all 15 of the provinces Indian Residential School sites for unmarked graves.

In January 2022, the federal government pledged $10.2 million dollars to the Mohawk Institute investigation over three years.

“Our government is committed to supporting the Survivors’ Secretariat’s complex work to uncover, document and share the truth about what happened at the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School during its 136 years of operation,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “We continue to welcome a dialogue with the leaders of Six Nations and the Survivors’ Secretariat about issues that are important to their community, including the confirmation of unmarked burials at the former Mohawk Institute.”

“This is important work, sacred work. We have not had the healthiest of relations, we hope, this changes moving forward.   We remind Ontario we need answers, that is what matters.

Tohsa sanikonha tsi tehotinenhskwenh ne ratiksa’okon:’a. Tahnon, tohsa sanikonha tsi ni ionkwariho:tens, akwe’:kon ratiya’atano:ron ne ratiksa’okon:’a. Ki:ken akweriahsakon. (Don’t forget they stole the children. And don’t forget in our cultural ways, all children are valued.) This message is from within my heart,” said Diane Hill, Board Member, Survivors’ Secretariat.

Chief Mark Hill offered his thanks for the funding saying, “I would like to thank the Ontario government and Minister Rickford for this funding to support the important work of the Survivors’ Secretariat in bringing our children home. Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council remains committed to supporting the mandate of the Survivors’ Secretariat and maintains an open dialogue with all levels of government as we continue to seek justice for Survivors.”

The Mohawk Institute was run by the Anglican Church of Canada and the Government of Canada from 1885 to 1970, making it the longest operating residential school in Canada. Children from Six Nations and many other First Nations across Canada were forced to attend.

The Survivors’ Secretariat was established in 2021 to organize and support efforts to uncover, document and share the truth about what happened at the Mohawk Institute during its operation.

Roughly 8,000 of the estimated 80,000 Indian Residential School Survivors lived in Ontario.

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