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Thursday, February 24, 2022

'Keep digging'

 Survivor has advice for officials probing possible graves at former residential school: 'Keep digging'

The 54 'hits' from ground-penetrating radar are just the start: Elaine Durocher

Elaine Durocher, a survivor of the St. Philip's Residential School in Keeseekoose, Sask., says she thinks searchers need to "keep digging" in Keeseekoose, where ground-penetrating radar has revealed 54 potential unmarked graves. (Andrew Lee/CBC News)

Warning: this story contains disturbing content 

Elaine Durocher, a Métis survivor of the St. Philip's Residential School, in Keeseekoose, Sask. was enrolled in the institution in the mid-1960s as a day student.

A child of the Sixties Scoop, she was born in Buffalo Narrows, Sask., more than 600 kilometres away from Keeseekoose. Durocher spent time with an adopted family before her mother was able to take her back into her care. She lived with her stepfather in Keeseekoose when she entered the residential school.

Though Durocher didn't live at the institution 24 hours a day as some of her "residential" peers, she knows firsthand the worst horrors experienced by those who were taken into the residential school system because of the time she spent there. 

She previously shared her experiences of sexual assault and abuse she experienced at the hands of teachers and peers through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The commission found sexual abuse was widespread at the institution in Keeseekoose through the 1960s.

Durocher says the 54 potential grave sites found through the survey conducted at Keeseekoose shows her the number of missing children due to the residential school system is much higher than previously assumed.

"If you say 54 at St. Philip's, why don't you say 5,400; they had three reserves to pick and choose from, who they wanted. They had Key reserve, Cote reserve and Keeseekoose reserve," Durocher said. 


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