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Dean Steini Brown’s Statement on Discovery of Unmarked Graves in Saskatchewan

June 24/2021

Dear DLSPH community,

Today, after learning about the 751 children discovered in unmarked graves at Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, I am reflecting on what I can do to advance Reconciliation — and what can be done by the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the University of Toronto. I believe each person must self-reflect about how these atrocities happened in Canada and why injustices toward Indigenous Peoples continue to occur.

As more unmarked graves are discovered at residential schools, Indigenous communities will need support, and concrete action toward Reconciliation. Public health practitioners, educators and researchers have a strong role to play in addressing urgent problems such as lack of drinking water, contamination, deforestation of old growth forests, lack of adequate and sustainable housing, inadequate mental health care services, and more. As a school, we are working with Indigenous communities on many of these issues, but we are also moving forward, in partnership with our Indigenous health leaders, on ways to Indigenize our own institution, including creating physical spaces that are more inclusive and respectful of our history.

We need to do more, and we will do more. On an immediate level, DLSPH leadership will be connecting with Indigenous communities in the coming days to learn how we can support Indigenous Peoples through these traumatic discoveries.

Finally, I want to draw everyone’s attention to these supports:

For all survivors and their families:

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419 is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience.

For U of T students, faculty, staff only:

WBIIH Weekly IRS Support Talking Circle and individual support sessions with Elders (poster sent separately).

NWAC (Native Women’s Association of Canada): Elders available for support via toll-free phone numbers:

U of T Indigenous Student Services:

U of T My Student Support Program provides immediate phone support in 35 languages. This service is available 24/7 by calling 1-844-451-9700. Outside of North America, call 001-416-380-6578.

U of T Employee and Family Assistance:

All my best,