Province commits $2.5M to fund investigations of residential school burial sites in Manitoba

The Manitoba government says it will spend $2.5 million on investigating burial sites at former residential schools across the province.

Government will consult with Indigenous leadership on best ways to use funding

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has has identified 104 potential graves in three cemeteries at the former Brandon residential school. (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives)

The Manitoba government says it will spend $2.5 million on investigating burial sites at former residential schools across the province. 

The province will engage with Indigenous leadership, elders and knowledge keepers to determine the best ways to identify, document, protect and commemorate the burial grounds and unmarked graves of missing children at sites in Manitoba, a news release from the province says.

Additional work meant to help First Nations communities through this process will also be considered for funding, the news release says.

The funding was announced in the news release Monday morning, which is National Indigenous Peoples Day, nearly a month after the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked burial sites of children's remains adjacent to a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

That discovery has prompted calls for investigations of former residential school burial sites in Manitoba in recent weeks. 

Up until Monday, the Manitoba government had not committed funding for these investigations, despite promises from other provinces. Ontario pledged $10 million to identify, investigate and commemorate residential school burial sites in the province.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said he wasn't against putting money toward such efforts, but did not commit to doing so. 

"We won't change our stance: our stance was never against putting money toward this [search], but partnering with the federal government and First Nation communities already on a couple of projects. We'll continue to do that," he said at a news conference following the Western Premiers Conference.

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