In a press release sent out late on Wednesday, ʔaq̓am officials said they are unsure if the 182 unmarked graves are the remains of children who attended the St. Eugene Residential School or patients from the St. Eugene Hospital.
The discovery was made last year after an unmarked grave was found while conducting remedial work around the ʔaq̓am Cemetery, prompting a survey of the grounds.
ʔaq̓am officials said graves are traditionally marked with a wooden cross, which can deteriorate over time. ʔaq̓am Leadership said these factors make it incredibly difficult to determine if these are the graves of children who attended the school.
ʔaq̓am Leadership said while the findings are tragic, the undergoing analysis is complex and they are requesting the public’s patience and understanding during this time. Further investigations will take place over the summer.
MORE: Former residential school grounds at ʔaq̓am to be searched (June 24th, 2021)
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.