For years, people every day drove past a field on a gravel road outside of Regina, not knowing its dark history.
On the other side of the right ditch about 1500 meters on Pinkie Road just before the railroad tracks lies a white fence with flowers attached to it.
It’s easy to miss, as there are no markers to signify the importance of what is contained in that fence. That is until today, when a commemorative plaque was unveiled to honour those who died while attending the Regina Indian Industrial School over 100 years ago.
The bodies of 36 children who died while attending the school from 1891 to 1910 are buried within the fence.
“I think it’s important for people to come and to have some signifier of what this site is. People have driven by and not recognized it’s a cemetery and not recognized the significance of this cemetery. So, the plaque will help share and convey the importance to the community and the people who stop in,” said Janine Windolph, a representative of the Regina Indian Industrial School Commemorative Association. “I think it will mean a lot to the descendants to come and have that acknowledgement in their healing journeys.”
The school itself is no longer standing, as all that remains is a few to bricks covered by brush. When the school operated, it did before Saskatchewan was a province and the land was under the Northwest Territories. The cemetery is now home to First Nations and Métis children from the prairies and the United States.
Windolph says trying to identify who each child is will prove difficult as there is no indication of where each child is buried, only the names of the buried.
Windolph says the plaque is a good step towards reconciliation, but wants the conversation to continue, in hopes that more action will be created.
A prominent fence will soon be constructed to amplify that the site is a cemetery.
(PHOTO: Commemorative plaque of Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery. Dan Jones)