(WINNIPEG, MB – June 24, 2022) – 50 years after a plane carrying residential school children crashed on Linwood Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada (RAMWC) is erecting a monument in their honour.
On June 24, 1972, a plane carrying eight students attending residential schools in Stonewall and Portage la Prairie, bound for Bunibonibee Cree Nation (formerly Oxford House), crashed in a vacant lot located between 426 and 430 Linwood Street just after takeoff.
Students Margaret Robinson, Mary Rita Canada, Ethel Grieves, Rosalie Balfour, Wilkie Muskego, Iona Weenusk, and siblings Roy and Deborah Sinclair, along with pilot Scott Coughlin, all died in the crash.
While there is a memorial for the victims in Long Plain First Nation where two of the students attended school, no memorial exists at the crash site. RAMWC is changing this.
Terry Slobodian stated, “As soon as we, at the museum, heard this tragic story from our Indigenous Curator, Niigaan Sinclair, we felt a strong responsibility to help honour the victims. An important mission of the new Royal Aviation Museum is to bring to light little-known stories of aviation history in western and northern Canada, led by a commitment to reconciliation and partnership with Indigenous peoples. Telling this story is an important step in fulfilling this mission; while the arrival of aviation brought many benefits to northern communities, there were also some heartbreaking consequences.”
A recipient of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Funds through Manitoba Sport, Culture, and Heritage, RAMWC is working with the City of Winnipeg to honour the nine deceased passengers with a memorial close to the crash site on the Yellow Ribbon Greenway Trail near Linwood Street and Silver Avenue.
“The tragic death of eight Indigenous children and a pilot in this plane crash is yet another sad chapter in the residential school legacy,” said St. James city councillor Scott Gillingham. “The new commemorative site will ensure future generations know their names and the devastating impacts of residential schools. I’m honoured I could work with the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada and city staff on this small step toward reconciliation.”
Available to organizations bearing the ‘Royal’ designation, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Funds are earmarked to support activities that will advance reconciliation and enhance Manitoba’s efforts toward creating a more equitable and inclusive society.
RAMWC is also working with the Bunibonibee Cree Nation community to erect a monument in their community to honour the students.
“This monument, recognizing one of the worst aviation disasters in Manitoba history, is a much-needed step to honour the lives lost by our relations in Bunibonibee Cree Nation – who lost an entire generation of young people in one moment,” explains Niigaan Sinclair. “I am very happy the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada has committed to rectifying this historical wrong and working with Indigenous leadership to help Winnipeggers recognize this event in our collective history.”
The memorial site in Winnipeg will feature a black and paradiso solid polished granite pedestal engraved with the names of the students and pilot, surrounded by newly planted trees and seating areas.
A ceremony commemorating the crash victims will take place when the monument is installed in its permanent location after the park is completed in spring 2023.
About the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada
The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada was established in 1974 by a small group of visionaries committed to preserving Canada’s distinct aviation heritage. Today, with nearly 100 historic aircraft and more than 70,000 artefacts and archival records (including photographs), the museum remains one of Canada’s largest and most complete aviation heritage collections. Through remarkable storytelling and engaging exhibits that enable visitors and students to discover the science behind flight, this collection is sure to inspire future generations of aviators and inventors. RAMWC is located on the campus of the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport and will be a premier attraction for the city of Winnipeg. Located on Treaty No. 1 Territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Lakota, and Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation, RAMWC is committed to Truth and Reconciliation, and to creating a safe space for this to occur.
For more information, please contact:
Vanessa Desorcy, Marketing Specialist