Survivors’ Secretariat honouring children who passed away at Mush Hole

The Six Nations Survivors’ Secretariat is honouring the children of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School with what’s being called the “Memorial 96 display” currently installed at their office in Ohsweken.

The display consists of two hearts arranged on the lawn, with the smaller heart representing the children who have been identified.

The larger heart signifies the children who remain to be found.

The individual feathers which create the display represent the 96 children who are known to have died while attending the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School in Brantford.

The Secretariat has been able to confirm the 96 child deaths through archival records found in both public and private repositories over the past two years.

The Survivors’ Secretariat is a Survivor-led initiative established in 2021. The Secretariat coordinates protocols and processes associated with the death investigation of the children who attended the institute and facilitates the gathering of community and Survivor statements as they work to document and share the truth about what happened at the Mohawk Institute during its 140-plus years of operation.

The Secretariat has identified more than two dozen collections held in archives and repositories in Canada and England.

“The truths contained within the documents of the harsh and unfair treatment of children are still being uncovered,” the Secretariat said in a press release. “Many collections have protections in place which slow or prevent Indigenous organizations from accessing documents about themselves. The Secretariat continues to navigate the colonial structures of the institutions holding records relevant to the Mohawk Institute.”

To date the Secretariat has collected, reviewed and organized over 20,000 relevant documents recording over 4,600 students and documenting 96 deaths. The Secretariat said it anticipates these numbers will continue to grow as more documents are obtained, reviewed, and catalogued.

The Secretariat is asking people to support Survivors this September to uncover, document, and share the truth about the legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada.

Some ways the Secretariat is suggesting Canadians take part in Truth and Reconciliation events being held across the province and country this week are:

-read and discuss literature about Indian Residential Schools

-watch and discuss movies about Indian Residential Schools

-wear orange to show your support this September

-donate to a Survivors organization

-support the inclusion of residential school legacy in Canadian education

The Survivors’ Secretariat is inviting people to stop by their office Sept. 18 to 29 to pick up a free Every Child Matters item, while supplies last.

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