Before reading further, know that this post contains information related to unmarked graves at former residential schools.
If you are experiencing trauma, or feeling triggered, please know that help is available 24/7 for survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. For youth that are struggling, they can talk with a live counselor 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868, text 686-868 or visit www.kidshelpphone.ca. Mental health support for Indigenous peoples is also available through the Hope for Wellness chatline at 1-800-721-0066 or using the chat box at https://www.hopeforwellness.ca.
The tragic discovery of the 215 Indigenous children buried at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia shed even more light on the horrible realities surrounding the residential school system and has led to a movement across our Nation to account for all of the children who died at residential schools because every child matters.
On February 14, 2022 the Final Summary of the first Ground-Penetrating Radar Search at Grouard Mission, Alberta was released. This was the first search for unmarked graves at a former residential school in Treaty 8 territory, which PRSD schools reside in. This search honors the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action listed under missing children and burial information.
A team from the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology at the University of Alberta, led by Dr. Kisha Supernant, conducted 6 days of ground-penetrating radar work around the site of St Bernard’s Indian Residential School at Grouard, Alberta at the request of Kapawe’no First Nation. One hundred sixty-nine potential graves were identified.
We recognize that this finding is deeply distressing. Let us all continue to hold space for our students, staff and community members who may be processing this trauma. As we continue the journey for truth and healing through the weeks, months and years ahead, may we each remember the importance of caring for ourselves and each other. May we all commit to educating ourselves about the truth of residential schools and contribute to actions to keep Indigenous children safe and thriving in Canada.