STAR BLANKET CREE NATION- The Star Blanket Cree Nation in Saskatchewan says ground-penetrating radar has discovered more than 2,000 areas of interest at the site of one of the longest-running residential schools in the country.
Project lead Sheldon Poitras says his team is looking at options, including DNA testing, to confirm what is there, but says they don’t believe all are unmarked graves.
A jaw bone fragment that has been identified to be of a child from about 125 years ago was also discovered, and Poitras says it’s believed to be physical proof of an unmarked grave.
Areas for the search were selected after testimonials from former students and elders who witnessed or heard stories of what happened at the school.
The school was one of the first three industrial schools to open in Canada and was run by the Roman Catholic Church from 1884 to 1973.
It operated for another 25 years until it closed in 1998.
An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools over a century in Canada and reports have detailed that many experienced emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual abuse.
The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relatives suffering trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2023.