Statement from Chief Mervin Cheechoo
June 24, 2021
Over the last few weeks, we have all been seeing the sad news of the discoveries of mass, unmarked graves of children on the grounds of former residential schools across the country. Just yesterday the news broke about hundreds of graves found near a former school in Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan. More of these discoveries will likely be made over the next few months.
I know this has been on the minds of many of the Membership and that it is having a triggering effect for survivors and inter-generational survivors. It has been weighing heavily on our minds as well and the Council has discussed this issue a few times this month.
Council has determined that it is inappropriate for MCFN to officially celebrate Canada Day this year. Instead, we are calling for a day of mourning on July 1st to honour the children that have been lost to Residential Schools across Canada.
The Council has determined that it is inappropriate for MCFN to officially celebrate Canada Day this year given that the results of the destructive policies of the federal government that were enacted for decades are being made so glaringly evident in the horrifying discoveries of these mass graves of children. Some community feedback obtained last week also indicated that a lot of people are not in a celebratory mood as a result.
Instead, the Council is calling for a time to remember and honour the children that have been lost by our brothers and sisters in First Nations across Canada and for us to remember and honour our own that died in residential schools in Moose Factory and elsewhere. To that end, Council signed a Band Council Resolution which declares that July 1, 2021 will be an official Day of Mourning for Moose Cree First Nation and its Membership.
In the days up to July 1, 2021 we will be sharing suggestions on ways the Membership, regardless of where they live, can engage in acts of remembrance of the children that have been lost and as acts of solidarity with all the families that still grieve.
Moose Factory Island is the heart of the Moose Cree First Nation traditional territory and I call on all organizations in Moose Factory Island and Moosonee to stand with us in unity and to also declare July 1, 2021 as a Day of Mourning. I also encourage all citizens of Moose Factory Island and Moosonee to join with us on the Day of Mourning to also engage in acts of remembrance, in honour of those that have been lost.
Council has also discussed the need for us to take steps to examine our own residential school experience as a Nation, to determine what progress has been made with healing and recovery and where more efforts are needed.
We also plan to start having discussions on the possibility of having a search done at the grounds of the former residential school in Moose Factory Island. I am aware that these are highly sensitive topics for many of our Membership and any such plans would be developed with the Membership, particularly the survivors. Details on these discussions will be announced in the weeks and months ahead.
To ensure you receive updates on these developments and other MCFN news, please provide your email or mailing address to Sara Wesley, Executive Administrative Assistant at or you can call or text her at 705-288-1217.
If you need help
As I mentioned earlier, the attention this issue has been receiving lately has been triggering many people, I encourage you reach out for help if you feel you need it.
The MCFN Health & Wellness team includes several caring and highly qualified counsellors. Speaking with one of them would be a safe and confidential way for you get some help. I encourage our Membership, wherever they may live, to reach out and speak to someone if it is needed.
The MCFN Health & Wellness team provides services to all the Membership, regardless of where they live. Contact Wendell Hardisty, Intake & Referral Worker, and he will arrange for you to speak with one of the Health & Wellness counsellors. Traditional counselling is also available at your request.
Wendell Hardisty’s contact information:
Phone: 705-658-4619 ext 256
Here are a few other sources you can use to speak to someone: