Please note that this news item contains distressing details.

On January 12, the Star Blanket Cree Nation in Saskatchewan announced that a fragment of a child’s jawbone between the ages of 4-6, dating back to the earlier days of the former Lebret (also known as Qu’Appelle) residential school, had been found. This followed a search of the grounds of the school, which returned 2,000 anomalies to be investigated as possible unmarked graves.

These finds are devastating to the families and communities whose children were taken from them and, more broadly, to all families impacted by residential schools. The church lifts up in prayer all who are mourning and freshly wounded.

While the Lebret residential school was Catholic-run, The Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) also operated 11 residential schools at 12 locations. We know there are ongoing searches at the sites of some of those schools as well. The PCC continues to repent of its sinful operation of these institutions and the profound, intergenerational harm the church caused through them.

The church also continues, in lament, to seek paths toward reconciliation with Indigenous people both within the church and outside it. We hold in prayer all those families whose children never returned home from the schools and pray for healing for all the brokenness the schools caused, even for those who were able to return home. Through reparation, advocacy and solidarity, the church continues to seek ways to work for truth, healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

A letter of condolence from the Moderator of the PCC, Rev. Dr. Bob Faris, will be sent to Star Blanket Cree Nation.