A design for the Saskatchewan Residential School Memorial that will be located at Government House has been unveiled by the province and the lieutenant-governor.
The memorial design will be circular in shape, symbolizing the cycles of the seasons and of life. It includes benches that will be made from reclaimed elm wood, sourced from Wascana Centre and Government House and milled by the Provincial Capital Commission. It also includes Saskatchewan plants and trees which are installed throughout the design.
At the centre of the memorial, a large natural stone depicts the province and the locations of each former Residential School. The stone will face east, toward the sunrise, signifying hope. A smudge bowl will be installed in front of the stone for ceremonial purposes.
“This memorial serves to pay respect to a tragic chapter in the history of our province, and honour those whose lives were lost in Residential Schools, the survivors and their families,” Premier Scott Moe said. “The Residential School Memorial Site invites reflection, education and most importantly, healing and reconciliation.”
The construction of a permanent memorial answers the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 82, which recommends installing a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential School memorial in each capital city to honour survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.
Together with the Provincial Capital Commission, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office plans to unveil the finished memorial at a future date.
The residential school system operated in Canada for more than a century. The federal government reports that 150,000 Indigenous children were removed and separated from their families and communities to attend these schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates that approximately 20 federal residential schools operated in Saskatchewan from the 1880s to the 1990s.