As we learn of the more than 750 unmarked graves found on the grounds of Regina’s former Marieval Indian Residential School, we are once more confronting a shameful period of Canadian history that continues today. On behalf of the University of Toronto, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the Cowessess First Nation and the Indigenous communities within and beyond U of T.
Compounding this tragedy is the certainty that more graves will be discovered as similar investigations take place at former residential school sites across Canada and beyond. The University will continue to support Indigenous students, staff, librarians, and faculty through this difficult time. I would also encourage non-Indigenous members of the U of T community to engage with the institutional Indigenous Cultural Competency Training series, available to employees through the Centre for Learning, Leadership, and Culture (LLC) and to students through the Career Learning Network (CLNx). Grappling with the legacy of residential schools is a shared responsibility and a necessary first step towards reconciliation.
Resources & Supports
Students can access supports through the University’s Indigenous Student Services while U of T My Student Support Program (SSP) offers students 24-hour confidential support that can be accessed over the phone in 35 languages, while support scheduled in advance is available in 146 languages.
Staff and faculty can access the Employee and Family Assistance Program which offers confidential short–term counselling and support for issues relating to mental health, health management, and workplace well-being. To access EFAP services, please contact Homewood Health at 1-800-663-1142.
Residential school survivors or those impacted by residential schools can access support through the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. It is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.
The Office of Indigenous Initiatives is available to connect Indigenous students, staff, faculty, librarians, and community members across U of T.
Beyond U of T, the following resources are also available to members of the Indigenous community:
- Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC)
- 2 Spirited People of the 1st Nations
- Anduhyaun Inc.
- Native Child & Family Services of Toronto
- Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto
- Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre
- Dodem Kanonhsa’
- Native Canadian Centre Toronto
- Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
- Na-Me-Res (Native Men’s Residences)
- Anishinawbe Health Toronto
To offer support, you could consider donating to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS). The IRSSS is a British Columbia-based organization that strives to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth, development, and healing for residential school survivors, families, and communities. You may also consider donating to U of T’s Indigenous Student Services at First Nations House to support our students.