British Columbia

Airspace over former Kamloops Indian Residential School restricted

The announcement is likely aimed at preventing the gathering of aerial video and photographs of the site where preliminary findings of a search detected the remains of as many as 215 children.

Preliminary findings of a ground-pentrating radar search found the remains of up to 215 children at the site

A monument honouring survivors is seen on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C. on Thursday, May 27, 2021 (Andrew Snucins/ Canadian Press)

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

The airspace over the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, where preliminary findings detected the remains of as many as 215 children, has been restricted.

Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller announced the closure on Twitter.

"Out of respect for the privacy of the survivors and families, we have restricted the air space over the former Kamloops residential school," he stated. "We will continue to work closely with the Indigenous communities affected and respect their mourning period."

The move is likely meant to stop the gathering of aerial photos or video by drone or other means. CBC has calls into NavCanada and the minister's office for more information.

Earlier on Friday, the chief of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said the community was trying to deal with the trauma of the preliminary findings and the task of identifying the remains.

"This is only the beginning and there is still so much work yet to be done," said Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir. "We're all grieving. This is unprecedented and we need to do the right thing and there is no roadmap."

Casimir told CBC News that, based on oral histories shared by survivors, some of the children were as young as three years old.

Preliminary detection of the remains was made by a specialist in ground-penetrating radar and announced on May 26.

The restrictions are spelled out in a Notice to Airmen, or NOTAM.

" ...pursuant to section 5.1 of the aeronautics act, the airspace surrounding the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Kamloops Indian Band Residential School is restricted ... No person shall [operate] an aircraft, including remotely piloted ... within the area described."

The notice is set to expire July 3.

Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

with files from GP Mendoza