Manitoba First Nation begins search for unmarked graves at former residential school site
WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba First Nation is looking for unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school
In the wake of the horrific discoveries in Kamloops, B.C., and other former residential school sites, Sagkeeng First Nation fundraised to pay for a search of its former residential school grounds, as well as other areas in the community.
“You just can’t go missing and be gone, you have to be somewhere right?” said Chief Derrick Henderson of Sagkeeng First Nation.
On Tuesday, crews began a survey of the former residential school site where the band council office now stands. The search is using a drone and ground penetrating radar technology.
Henderson said after decades of stories about the possibility of unmarked graves, action was needed based on what the community wanted.
“I know that governments have made announcements that they’re going to be providing funding, but I can’t wait. We’re going to do it now,” he said.
The process began with a pipe ceremony on Sunday, and on Monday the area was smudged.
The chief said even though people called for the search, he knows it won’t be easy for the survivors.
“I guess that’s why it’s really difficult cause we just, I guess we’re retraumatizing them right? You know and that’s what’s happened,” Henderson said.
Charlene Courchene, a residential school survivor, said searches like this are crucial in order to educate everyone about what really happened.
“I even tell my kids about it, it’s sometimes too they have the doubt, there’s not believing. But it’s real all true,” Courchene said.
The search is set to continue through Friday.