British Columbia

Tseshaht First Nation will search for potential burial sites at Island residential school site

 A Vancouver Island First Nation says it has taken the first steps toward locating potential human burial sites at the former site of the Alberni Indian Residential School.

The nation says it has started preparations for the search of the former Alberni Indian Residential School

Toys and shoes sit on the steps of the B.C. Legislature on Aug.19, 2021, placed there as a memorial to children who died at residential schools. (Emily Fagan/CBC )

A Vancouver Island First Nation says it has taken the first steps toward locating potential human burial sites at the former site of the Alberni Indian Residential School.

A statement posted Wednesday by the Tseshaht First Nation says "foundational work'' to locate any graves just outside Port Alberni, B.C., has begun.

Preparation to use ground-penetrating radar at the site is underway but the statement says work won't begin until soil conditions are ideal.

Tseshaht leaders say cultural support will be provided and they urge those who attended the school to share their knowledge with the research and investigation teams.

Senior levels of government have announced that $1 million is available over two years to help the Tseshaht work with survivors to locate and honour children who never returned home from the school.

The Alberni Indian Residential School operated between 1900 and 1973.

Similar investigations are being done at former residential schools around B.C.

The work began after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc in Kamloops announced last spring that ground-penetrating radar had identified what are believed to be more than 200 potential burial sites at the site of a former residential school on its territory.

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