Warning: Disturbing Content.

Additional unmarked graves have been detected at two former residential schools near Kamsack.

The Keeseekoose First Nation revealed the results of ground-penetrating radar searches, indicating that 42 hits were detected at the Fort Pelly residential school and 12 markers at the St. Philip’s residential school.

“I think about all those children that went to school. What it really boils down to, is seeing your kids leave your house in the morning, not realizing that you’ll never ever see your child again for as long as you live, not knowing any answers to where those children are gone, “ said Keeseekoose First Nation Chief Lee Kitchemonia. “All you know is that they’re gone to school, and they’ve never returned. I can’t imagine what those parents and grandparents would have felt like. All I know is that it must have been a hurt that nobody could ever imagine.”

The Fort Pelly school began operation in 1895, but closed in 1913 due to poor health of its administrator, low enrollment and poor conditions.  The St. Philip’s school operated from 1928-1969. 132 students were registered to that school in 1964-65.

“I think all this has done is it’s opened up the door for more questions. Are there more graves out there, we don’t know that. We got caught up in the snow,” explained Kitchemonia. “It also opens up the door for more questions. It’s going to be a very tough time for our community. Knowing that we had unmarked graves in our community, in our common areas that we drive everyday that we walk everyday, we passed by them, never realizing that there were graves and that’s got to be the most hurtful part is the way they were hidden.”

Widespread sexual and physical abuse was reported, while four deaths were recorded at both schools. Chief Kitchemonia said the First Nation will work to identify those buried in the unmarked graves. He also called for accountability for those involved, suggesting criminal wrongdoing could be possible

(Photo of Fort Pelly Residential School. Courtesy of the University of Regina.)


Support is available for those affected by their experience at Indian Residential Schools and in reading difficult stories related to residential school.  The Indian Residential School Crisis Line offers emotional and referral services 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.