Lac Seul First Nation to receive $8.7 million for Bringing our Children Home Initiative
Tim Brody - Editor
WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing.
Lac Seul First Nation will receive $8,743,163 from the governments of Canada and Ontario to support the community’s work as lead for Bikiiwewinig Nindawaashishiiminaanak (Bringing Our Children Home Initiative), on behalf of 33 First Nations, Survivors, and partners, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, and the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council.
The community-led process enables Lac Seul First Nation to undertake this work in their own way and at their own pace and in partnership with the 33 other First Nations involved in this initiative to ensure cultural and spiritual protocols are maintained in working with Survivors, intergenerational Survivors, Knowledge Keepers and First Nation leadership to address the location, documentation, mapping, maintenance, commemoration, memorialization and fieldwork investigation of burials associated with the former Pelican Lake Residential School.
The funding was announced on April 4 by Chief Clifford Bull of the Lac Seul First Nation; Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services; and Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs for Ontario.
On November 4, 2021, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) provided an initial amount of $1,000,000 to Lac Seul First Nation, approved for fiscal year 2021-2022. For fiscal years 2021-24, CIRNAC has confirmed additional funding of $6,091,563.
“Indigenous Services Canada’s contribution includes a one-time funding amount of $551,600 to support mental wellness human resources associated with Bringing our Children Home. The staff hired with this funding will support various aspects of the initiative to ensure appropriate mental health supports are in place for those undertaking this difficult work in their communities.
“This contribution is available through health support funding that was announced in August 2021 to improve access to emotional, cultural, and mental health supports for those impacted by the ongoing investigations and confirmations of unmarked burials at the sites of former residential schools,” the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs stated in an April 4 news release.
Ontario’s contribution of $1,100,000 in 2021-22 includes $700,000 in operating funding to support research and community engagement related to burial investigations, and $400,000 in mental health funding to provide supports to Survivors, Elders, and community members as the initiative proceeds.
“I also extend my deep gratitude to all the partners: the 33 First Nation Chiefs’ resolution authorizing Lac Seul to lead the Initiative; the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority and the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council for their unwavering support administratively to ensure that the Initiative was realized and funded,” Lac Seul First Nation Chief Clifford Bull stated. “The funding commitment allows us, as First Nations, to search for our missing children and to find the truth through meaningful involvement of the residential school survivors and their families. This means having an ongoing stable mental health, financial and human support system in place that will be critical as we delve into such a dark past,”
“Our Government will continue to support Indigenous communities as their unique needs and priorities evolve, including Lac Seul First Nation, with their research and commemoration initiatives
to heal from the devastating and lasting impacts of the Pelican Lake Residential School. We acknowledge the difficult work that the leadership, the Survivors, their families, and the community of Lac Seul First Nation is taking on,” shared Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.
“The work being undertaken with Bringing our Children Home is essential in sharing and finding the truth about the ongoing legacy and impacts of residential schools. This is heavy work, and I applaud Chief Bull and members of Lac Seul First Nation leadership in prioritizing the mental wellness of all those involved every step of the way, fostering a supportive environment for community healing as this process unfolds,” stated Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services.
“Ontario is supporting Lac Seul First Nation as they continue to work on this important community-led initiative — Bringing our Children Home. This includes funding for mental health supports for Survivors, Elders, and community members. It is necessary for Ontario to deepen its collective understanding of the legacy
traumas caused by the Indian Residential School system on the journey towards
meaningful reconciliation,” concluded Greg Rickford, Ontario Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and sent to schools run by the Catholic, Protestant, and Presbyterian churches.
Resources to support those in distress due to the Indian Residential School system include the Indian Residential School Survivors Society at 1-800-721-0066, Indian Residential School (IRS) National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, and Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s NAN HOPE program at 1-844-626-4673.