Further to the statement we made a few weeks ago, after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former residential school in Kamloops, we are so very saddened to hear of the further findings in the past week.
In Saskatchewan, last week the Cowessess First Nation announced a preliminary finding Thursday of 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School. The Marieval Indian Residential School operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area where Cowessess is now located, about 140 kilometres east of Regina. Children from First Nations in southeast Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba were sent to the school. The First Nation took over the school's cemetery from the Catholic Church in the 1970s. Earlier in June Cowessess started using ground-penetrating radar to locate unmarked graves. It was not immediately clear if all the remains are connected to the residential school.
Most recently, on Wednesday June 30th, it was announced that 182 unmarked graves were found in BC's South Interior near the location of a former residential school. The community of ʔaq'am, one of four bands in the Ktunaxa Nation and located near the city of Cranbrook, B.C., used ground-penetrating radar to search a site close to the former St. Eugene's Mission School, the Lower Kootenay Band announced Wednesday. According to the band, the findings indicated the graves were shallow, about a metre deep. "You can never fully prepare for something like this," said Chief Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band, which is a member of the Ktunaxa Nation. St. Eugene's Mission School was operated by the Catholic Church from 1912 until the early 1970s. The building has since been converted into a golf resort and casino owned by the Ktunaxa Nation. The Lower Kootenay Band says up to 100 of its members were forced to attend the school.
"It is believed that the remains of these 182 souls are from the member Bands of the Ktunaxa Nation, neighbouring First Nations communities and the community of ʔaq'am," read a media release from the band.
CVS, as an agency that supports individuals from the indigenous community, is saddened and heartbroken by these findings. We will continue to support you in whatever way we can.
Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools, and those who are triggered by these reports.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for residential school survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.