Many significant provincial figures came out to Portage la Prairies earlier this week when an event for missing indigenous children was held at the former residential school site here in town.

The big news on the day was that the Manitoba government was providing $2,500,000 to Indigenous Governments to co-develop Indigenous-led approaches to the collective healing process.

Kyra Wilson, Chief of Long Plain First Nation, says she felt a sense of sadness given that many people from Long Plain attended the Portage school. 

Wilson explains her connection to residential schools.

"My grandmother was a residential school survivor, and it's tough to hear the history of that when I'm a mom. I am an aunty and sister. It's really a sad history here in Canada, and so I'm happy that I'm able to stand here today and do this work. But I'm also sad because a part of my family had to attend these schools."

The Chief of Long Plain shares that her grandmother passed away in 2008 but never actually talked about attending a residential school. She believes her grandmother attended Assiniboia Residential School in Winnipeg.

"I didn't really fully understand what happened in these schools until after she had passed on. It wasn't until I started going to university, I would say probably for the first year of university, I cried everyday. It was just because I was learning so much of the history with these schools, and she never talked about it."

Wilson adds that she was happy to see so many people come out and support the survivors.

"It's really important work, and I think we're going to be doing this for generations. This work is not something that's going to be done next year or in ten years from now. We are hearing of new things every day, and so it's going to be generations of work."

Portage MLA Ian Wishart says the day was a step in the right direction, but that's all it was, a step.

Wishart touches on the day of recognizing what happened in residential school.

"Some of the survivors told their stories, and then we had part of an announcement about some additional funding. About $2,500,000 is coming from the province to help the First Nations in their process of identifying any unknown grave sites. The federal government also has a role in this, and we have to work together hand in hand on this."

The Portage MLA adds that he believes all Manitobans and Canadians want to know the story behind this and find these sites, having them adequately identified and appropriate actions taken.

Wishart notes that working with the federal government will be essential in this process.