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HomeCranbrook News182 unmarked graves found in St. Eugene Residential School grounds

182 unmarked graves found in St. Eugene Residential School grounds

WARNING: The following story contains details some readers may find disturbing.

A search of the area surrounding the St. Eugene Mission Residential School in 2020 revealed the unmarked graves of 182 people. Another scan of the grounds is being conducted this year.

Officials with the Lower Kootenay Band said last year’s search of the school located in the ʔaq̓am community found some of the remains buried in shallow graves between three and four feet deep. The bodies are believed to be from member bands of the Ktunaxa Nation, ʔaq̓am and neighbouring Indigenous communities.

The school was in operation from 1912 to 1970, and took in Indigenous children ages seven to 15. The children were required to attend by law, and the school was operated by the Roman Catholic Church.

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Lower Kootenay Band officials believe about 100 of its members were taken to the St. Eugene school.

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.

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: Former residential school grounds at ʔaq̓am to be searched (June 24, 2021)

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