N.W.T. communities urged to apply for residential school survivors commemoration funding

CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) [Toronto, Canada]

July 8, 2022

By CBC News, with files from Dodie Malegana

Edna Elias would like to see Arctic communities participate in project

Nunavut educator and politician Edna Elias wants Arctic groups to apply to a government fund dedicated to monuments honouring residential school survivors, and children who never returned home. 

Elias, from Kugluktuk, N.W.T., works with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and is involved in administering a new grant, funded through the federal government, that allows communities to apply for money to design and create memorials honouring community histories of residential schools. 

The grant is called the Na-mi-quai-ni-mak Community Support Fund. Na-mi-quai-ni-mak is Anishinaabemowin and means “I remember them.”

With this funding — up to $10,000 — communities can design and create any sort of commemorative marker honouring survivors, families and those who did not make it home. 

Elias listed monuments and peace gardens as ideas for applications. 

She said that any Indigenous government, band council or survivor group in Canada can apply, and that there is special interest in marking sites of former residential schools. 

The funding comes in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. 

The 79th call to action calls upon the federal government to collaborate with survivors, Indigenous organizations and the arts community to develop and implement a “national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.”

Elias said 22 applicants can get funding, and that she would “really like to see representation and some of this funding going to our Arctic communities.”

“I’m thinking particularly of Aklavik and Inuvik where there were residential schools,” she said.

Interested applicants can find full guidelines and an application form on the government of Canada’s website. As possible projects, the government site suggests community ceremonies, healing workshops, murals, plaques and elder presentations.

Any project that increases awareness of residential schools; honours children who did not return home, along with survivors and their families; or that provides an opportunity for survivors, families and communities to share their stories and “advance inter-generational healing,” is eligible.