93 suspected child, infant graves found at former Canadian residential school
Ground penetrating radar has unearthed 79 potential children’s graves and those that may be of 14 infants at the former Beauval Indian Residential School in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, English River First Nation said Tuesday, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency.
"This is not a final number. It breaks my heart that there are likely more," English River First Nation chief Jenny Wolverine said during a news conference in Saskatoon as reported by CTV News.
The Indigenous band began the search two years ago in August 2021. Wolverine said the search was based on historical stories communicated through time.
"We were not sure what to expect and what we would find. But we did know the stories that were shared over generations about the treatment of the students and those students who never returned home," she said.
Wolverine said the finding of possible gravesites marks the beginning of a “long and difficult journey.”
English River First Nation is located in the north of Saskatchewan and Beauval Indian Residential School opened there in 1860. A boarding school, it was run by a Roman Catholic mission until 1969. The school officially closed in 1983 when it was given to the 10 Meadow Lake Bands, which included English River First Nation. It was demolished in 1995.
The discovery of suspected graves is not the first tragedy at the school. In 1927, a fire killed 19 boys and one teacher, according to the University of Regina, Saskatchewan.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission also published survivor stories, including that of “boys who were caught throwing snowballs (and) were punished with blows to their hands from the blade of a hockey stick.” Survivor Mervin Mirasty also told the commission that both he and his brother were sexually abused.
In 2013, a former supervisor at the school was found guilty of gross indecency for assaults on boys from 1959 to 1967, CTV News reported when the supervisor was paroled in 2016.