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Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Sask. First Nation says it's found 93 potential unmarked child, infant graves

A cemetery located near the former site of the Beauval Indian Residential School. (English River First Nation)

A cemetery located near the former site of the Beauval Indian Residential School. (English River First Nation)


A Saskatchewan First Nation now says it has found 79 suspected child grave sites and 14 potential infant grave sites.

"This is not a final number. It breaks my heart that they are likely more," English River First Nation chief Jenny Wolverine said during a news conference in Saskatoon on Tuesday.

English River started searching the site of the former Beauval Indian Residential School in August 2021, using ground penetrating radar.

"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," Wolverine said.

The revised total comes after English River First Nation disclosed the discovery of 83 suspected unmarked graves earlier this month.

The First Nation asked for privacy following its initial revelation and had said more details would be revealed during Tuesday's news conference.

Speaking in Saskatoon on Tuesday, Wolverine said disclosing the findings marked the start of a "long and difficult journey."

"As a community and a nation we came together and put our elders and survivors first," Wolverine said.

"We did ceremony to help them come to terms, to heal their spirit."

The English River chief called upon the federal and provincial governments to provide resources for the First Nation's search effort.

"It doesn't all come down to dollars and cents," Wolverine said, visibly choking up for a few moments.

"We have heard 'I am sorry.' Now we need to see action, and that means continuing to bring home the children we lost at the hands of residential schools."

Beauval Indian Residential School was first founded in 1860 and operated for more than 100 years, according to the University of Regina. It was operated by a Roman Catholic mission until 1969.

In 2013, a former dormitory supervisor at the school was convicted of indecent assault and gross indecency for assaults on young boys between 1959 and 1967.

This is a developing story. More details to come.


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