Early results of search for possible graves at Vancouver Island school to be released

PORT ALBERNI, B.C.- A First Nation on Vancouver Island says it is ready to release the results of its preliminary investigation into possible unmarked graves on the grounds of a former residential school near Port Alberni, B.C.

The Tseshaht First Nation says the findings will be made public on Feb. 21, in Port Alberni.

It says ground-penetrating radar has been used over the last 18 months to check the area around the former Alberni Indian Residential School site, mirroring probes at other former residential schools across B.C. and Canada.

A history compiled by the Tseshaht found that children from at least 100 B.C. First Nations attended the Port Alberni school while it operated from 1900 to 1973.

A statement issued Monday by Tseshaht Elected Chief Councillor Wahmeesh, whose English name is Ken Watts, says the preliminary findings can be difficult but will give survivors and the First Nation “the knowledge and tools needed to continue (the) important and sacred work.”

Results from the second phase of a probe into possible graves at the former St. Joseph’s Mission near Williams Lake were make public last month, showing an additional 66 “reflections,” adding to the 93 potential graves detected earlier.

The examination at St. Joseph’s came after ground-penetrating radar located what are believed to be more than 200 graves at the former Indian Residential School in Kamloops, nearly two years ago.

The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which documented the experiences of those affected by Canada’s residential school system, found at least 4,100 children died while attending the institutions between the 1870s and 1990s.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2023.



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