Acts of vandalism and racism toward residential school memorial strongly condemned

Municipality, Athabasca Tribal Council and McMurray Métis strongly condemn acts of vandalism and racism toward residential school memorial

(Fort McMurray, AB – August 30, 2021) –  Over the weekend, it was discovered that the residential school memorial at the front of the Jubilee Centre in downtown Fort McMurray was vandalized. This memorial consists of hundreds of pairs of children’s shoes and other symbolic items, which represent the unmarked graves of students who attended residential schools.  The memorial was disrespectfully tossed onto the nearby sidewalk, and a sign stating “Garage Sale, all items free” was posted with the pile. Upon discovery of this act, the Municipality contacted the RCMP, and an investigation was initiated.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, McMurray Métis, and Athabasca Tribal Council together, strongly condemn this act of vandalism and racism.

“This shameful act of vandalism and racism holds no place in our region – we can’t sit idly by when racism happens in our community. We must all speak out and condemn these acts in the strongest terms possible.  An act like this is intolerable in our region – and it serves as a clear reminder that stronger action is needed to advance reconciliation,” said Mayor Don Scott. “We must all continue to listen to the truth, educate ourselves and take daily steps that bring us closer to reconciliation, while continuing to support survivors and their families.”

“McMurray Métis was deeply saddened that someone would be so heartless to remove this beautiful memorial in honour of residential school victims and all the Indigenous children’s lives that were lost. We hope that the following days leading up to Orange Shirt Day on September 30 will be filled with reflection on the true history of Canada and the tragedy that has occurred over the Summer with all the unmarked graves that were found and are still yet to be discovered. McMurray Métis continues to be an advocate for education and we encourage everyone in the RMWB to participate in the Reconciliation Challenge and learn more about Indigenous people and end racism towards them,” said Peter Hansen, President, McMurray Métis, Local 1935.

“The recent vandalism of the memorial for residential school victims highlights the racism we fight every day. When ignorant acts are combined with dishonouring the memorials of the children that died in residential schools, the trauma to residential school survivors, their families and our communities continues. The memorial has been used to honour the memories of those who died in residential school. We hope that the individual or individuals of such a disgraceful act are brought to justice through the RCMP’s investigation. We continue to work with the RMWB on steps to reconciliation through the Orangepath.ca and the RMWB’s Reconciliation Challenge. We encourage all to visit Orangepath.ca and sign the petition for the proposed Athabasca Tribal Council Amendment to the Indian Act, and follow the next steps on their journey to reconciliation.” said Chief Adam, President of the Athabasca Tribal Council.

Together, Athabasca Tribal Council, McMurray Métis, and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo are calling on residents to build awareness of local Indigenous culture, history, and the legacy of residential schools and take action to move reconciliation forward. Community members are strongly encouraged to:

For additional information on truth and reconciliation in the Municipality, please visit rmwb.ca/trc.