93 potential graves found at Canada school site
MONTREAL, Jan 26, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - An Indigenous community in Canada has
identified nearly 100 "potential" graves at a residential school site, months
after the discovery of hundreds of children's remains at former boarding
schools rocked the country.
The Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) community said on Tuesday that a
geophysical survey revealed "93 reflections" with characteristics "indicative
of potential human burials" at the former St. Joseph's Mission residential
school in British Columbia.
Investigators "surveyed approximately 14 hectares of the broader 480-
hectare site", which is about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Kamloops --
where the remains of 215 children were found in May.
Since May, more than 1,000 anonymous graves have been found near former
"Indian residential schools" run by religious groups, shedding light on a
dark chapter in Canadian history and its policy of forced assimilation of
First Nations people.
Thousands of Indigenous children attended St. Joseph's Mission between
1886 and 1981 when it operated as a residential school run by various
religious sects as part of a Canadian government system, according to WLFN, a
community of around 800 people.
"There is much more work to do on the St. Joseph's site, and we have every
intention of continuing with this work," WLFN Chief Willie Sellars said in a
In early January, Ottawa announced $1.9 million Canadian dollars ($1.5
million) in funding for the investigation at St. Joseph's mission.
"To date, $116.8 million has been committed to support First Nation, Inuit
and Metis Survivors, their families and communities and go toward locating
and commemorating missing children who attended residential schools," the
government said in a statement at the time.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that the news of the potential
graves "brings a lot of distressing emotions to the surface."
"My heart breaks for the members of the community, and for those whose
loved ones never came home."
Numerous investigations into former residential schools are underway
across the country, with between 4,000 and 6,000 children believed to be
missing, according to authorities.
In total, about 150,000 Indigenous children were enrolled from the late
1800s to the 1990s in 139 of the residential schools across Canada, spending
months or years isolated from their families, language and culture.
A truth and reconciliation commission concluded in 2015 the failed
government policy amounted to "cultural genocide."