City of Calgary partners with Fort Calgary, securing location for future Indian Residential School (IRS) Memorial
Today The City of Calgary and the Fort Calgary Preservation Society (Fort Calgary) announced their intention to enter a partnership to design and construct a permanent Indian Residential School Memorial at Fort Calgary.
The City of Calgary started working toward establishing a permanent memorial in 2021. This was a direct response to the first 215 unmarked graves discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in June 2021. A temporary memorial was created by communities across Calgary in the wake of these discoveries and the need for a permanent memorial became evident. The City’s Indigenous Relations Office began working closely with several partners, including local Indigenous communities, the IRS Elders Advisory Group and the IRS working group to design a memorial in November 2021.
Earlier this week both The City and Fort Calgary signed a Letter of Intent, confirming that they will work together in a good way to develop and construct the Memorial on City-owned lands at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers.
“As we move along a path that includes both truth and reconciliation, our actions must come from the heart and reflect a commitment to do better into the future,” says Mayor Jyoti Gondek. “This permanent memorial will be a space to honour residential school survivors, their families and the thousands of children who never returned. It will be a reflective space to mourn individually and collectively and ensure that our shared history, no matter how painful, is not forgotten.”
The Fort Calgary site was chosen after broad community engagement through 2022 revealed that the confluence was the first choice of the community for future memorials. A marker indicating the site as the future home of the Memorial is located at the northeast corner of the lands near the Fort Calgary community garden. Exact placement for the permanent memorial will be determined in the next phase of the memorial’s development.
“Fort Calgary’s legacy will forever be tied to role of the North West Mounted Police in enforcing the Indian residential school system. Officers searched for and returned children who had run away, they fined parents whose children did not go to school, and they assisted Indian Agents with the removal of children from their homes,” says Jennifer Thompson, President of Fort Calgary. “Truth must come before reconciliation, and the IRS Memorial will help deepen the community’s understanding of the truth that is represented here at Fort Calgary. We are grateful to the community and the City of Calgary for selecting this place as its future home.”
“With confirmation of the future location, the next phase of this project has several key milestones,” says Harold Horsefall, Issues Strategist with the IRO and IRS Memorial project co-lead. “Our focus now is further development of the siting and design workgroup, procurement. Then we’ll look towards final design and construction.”
Learn more about the IRS Memorial by visiting www.engage.calgary.ca/IRSmemorial