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Missanabie Cree to aid investigation of unmarked residential school burials

First Nation to partner with environmental consultant to offer investigative expertise to residential school survivors, Indigenous communities as searches continue for unmarked burials across Canada
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Missanabie Cree First Nation Chief Jason Gauthier. Darren Taylor/SooToday

Missanabie Cree First Nation has announced a new partnership through its investigation firm, ISN Maskwa, to support investigations into unmarked burials at residential school sites in Canada as part of a new partnership with Winnipeg-based environmental consultant Narratives Inc. 

A joint news release follows:  

Winnipeg, MANITOBA — Missanabie Cree First Nation, through its company ISN Maskwa, today announced that they have established a new partnership with Narratives Inc. to support the Residential Schools investigations.

By working together, the two organizations can provide highly specialized and strong technical supports to Survivors and communities, who are currently undertaking the important work of searching for unmarked graves and burial sites of children who did not come home from Residential Schools across Canada.

“Today is a historic day. We have all been trying to find answers and pull teams together to help find those answers quicker,” said chief Jason Gauthier of Missanabie Cree First Nation. “Today we bring together two such teams who are already working in this area so we can continue to move this work forward together in a meaningful way, in ceremony, with care. There’s greater hope in working together, in forging partnerships with each other, with experts, with all who can help find answers. I hope this partnership encourages others to come together, to work together, to bring our children home, to heal our people and do it all in a good way”.

"We are proud to have partnered with Narratives Inc. to take on this meaningful work on behalf of so many communities and Survivors of the Residential School system,” said Sean Sparling, President of ISN Maskwa. “We respect the unique wishes of the communities in how they want to approach this, as well as the fact that this time-sensitive work must be undertaken with the utmost professionalism and highest degree of investigative standard.  All of this must be undertaken in a respectful and culturally appropriate consultation with stakeholders.  We are honoured to be part of the team to bring the children home to their loved ones.”

Between the two organizations, ISN Maskwa and Narratives Inc. have been providing Survivors with support in developing protocols to guide the process as they work together to uncover the truth and memorialize those who did not come home. These processes may include navigating access to archival records, family tree mapping, gathering testimony, using Ground Penetrating Radar, and other appropriate technology. Together they are committed to supporting processes that are Survivor-led and trauma-informed.

"Our collective experience in supporting the vision and goals of Survivors and Indigenous communities will enable us to work in partnership to provide specialized supports," said Somia Sadiq, Founder and Principal Partner of Narratives Inc. "Survivors and their families need answers, and we’re grateful to Missanabie Cree First Nation and ISN Maskwa for their willingness to share their expertise in this partnership.”

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