Backpack display on steps of Sask. legislature illustrates impact of residential schools

The backpacks will be filled with school supplies and donated to students in need of the supplies, according to one of the organizers of the initiative.

A display on the steps of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building is drawing attention to the significant number of unmarked graves discovered on the Cowessess First Nation.

Hundreds of backpacks, each with a handprint  on the front, can be seen lining the steps. The display is a memorial to the estimated 751 unmarked graves found on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School.

During Tuesday’s COVID-19 update, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe encouraged residents to participate in the display.

“I would reference what I think is a very positive initiative, there’s a number of people that are placing backpacks on the steps of the Legislature, 751 backpacks will be on the steps of the Legislature,” Moe said. “It provides an opportunity to raise awareness, to take the initiative to educate ourselves on what the residential school system was and what it ultimately did to the Indigenous people in our society.”

The backpacks will be filled with school supplies and donated to students in need of the suppplies, according to one of the organizers of the initiative.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

Backpacks can be dropped off on the steps of the legislative building, at 229 College Ave., or 1501 Urich Ave.

Organizers will place orange handprints on the backpacks as part of the display.