The New Democrats assert the location of a proposed monument for residential school survivors is unsuitable.

The provincial government and Lt. Governor Russ Mirasty have committed to building a Truth and Reconciliation monument at Government House this year, following consultations that were to take place earlier.

“Had meaningful engagement and consultation happened before the site was decided upon, you would have known that this site for this monument on Government House is right beside a church,” said Saskatoon Centre MLA Betty Nippi-Albright. “Is this the intention of this government, to perpetuate the trauma we as residential school survivors have endured by church-run schools?”

Nippi-Albright questions the amount of money being used to construct the monument, speculating that cost could reach $500,000.

She suggests that the money could be used in other projects to achieve reconciliation.

However, the public monument, which the government said is “to honour those who suffered, and those who continue to suffer, the impact of the residential school system,” is in response to the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Call to Action #82, which recommends installing a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.”

Yet in criticizing the location of the monument at Government House, Nippi-Albright asserts that Indigenous People will not attend the monument and said it should be erected on the grounds of the Legislative Assembly, a clear symbol of Treaty 4 territory.

“And it’s His Honour Russ Mirasty, who attended a residential school, who I think has probably his finger on the heartbeat of that community as well as anybody else,” explained Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs Don McMorris.

McMorris said it was Mirasty who suggested the Government House location, on a quiet site. “His Honour had said to me, this is going to be a monument that people are going to feel huge emotion. And so do you want to have this huge emotion out in the middle of a high-traffic area,” asked McMorris?

The government said construction details would be announced later.

Nippi-Albright said other ways of achieving reconciliation would be to include more pipe ceremonies at the Legislature and Treaty education for all MLAs, legislative staff, and senior ministry staff.

(Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor)