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Former residential school grounds at ʔaq̓am to be searched

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A search will be conducted at St. Eugene Mission to look for remains buried on the grounds.

This comes after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in May.

Officials with ʔaq̓am said the news out of Kamloops brought back painful memories for the local community and brought up questions about potential work around the former school.

A search using ground-penetrating radar was performed on a portion of the cemetery in 2020, at the request of Ktunaxa Elders.

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Officials said work was undertaken to ensure ancestral remains were preserved, which is part of a pillar in ʔaq̓am’s Community Strategic Plan, ka kniⱡwi·tiyaⱡa.

More work will take place over the summer, which will help answer questions and build a comprehensive record.

“We ask for privacy and patience as we undertake this important work to honour our ancestors,” said ʔaq̓am officials.

This work will be done alongside the community’s Elders and Knowledge Holders, as it has in the past.

“We as the community of ʔaq̓am stand by our brothers and sisters in Kamloops and across the country, and we will continue to do the work of healing for our communities now and into the future,” said Nasuʔkin (Chief) Joe Pierre Jr.

On Thursday, an announcement was made that 751 unmarked graves have been discovered at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience or for those affected by these reports.  The 24-hour crisis line is available at 1-866-925-4419.

More: Saskatchewan First Nation confirms discovery of 751 unmarked graves at former residential school (June 24, 2021)

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