Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify children buried at Brandon residential school site
Southwestern Manitoba First Nation has partnered with researchers to identify all children who died at school
WARNING: This story contains distressing details.
A southwestern Manitoba First Nation is partnering with university researchers to resume its work to identify the children buried in unmarked graves at the Brandon Indian Residential School, following the discovery last week of the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves at a former residential school site in British Columbia.
Sioux Valley Dakota Nation is working with researchers at Simon Fraser University, Brandon University and the University of Windsor to identify the names of children who died at school while it was in operation from 1895 to 1972.
The project will use forensic methods coupled with archival research and interviews with survivors, a news release says.
It was supposed to begin in 2019, but was delayed due to the pandemic. It will build on previous research.
Last Thursday, the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia said the remains of 215 children — some as young as three years old — were found after a preliminary survey of the grounds at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
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The discovery has prompted calls for investigations at other residential school sites across Canada.
Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Chief Jennifer Bone said in a statement Tuesday that the First Nation has identified 104 potential graves in three cemeteries, but only 78 are accountable through historical records. Two previously known cemeteries are located at the Turtle Crossing Campground on the northwestern outskirts of Brandon and on land owned by the Brandon Research Centre.
But Bone said Tuesday a possible third site had been identified, and more graves on a portion of the school property the First Nation owns.
Bone said work is moving forward with First Nations that may have members buried in these cemeteries.
"There is more work to be done to bring truth to the atrocities afflicted on the children who are our parents, grandparents and great parents, and those children who never became parents, grandparents and great grandparents," she said in a statement posted to YouTube.
"The children buried at these sites must have their identities restored and their stories told."
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.