WARNING: Disturbing content
The English River First Nation said it believes it has located 83 potential unmarked graves at the Beauval Residential School site.
The First Nation undertook Phase 1 of a ground-penetrating radar search of the residential school in August 2021.
“It is with sincere sadness that we announce that upon further investigation and study of the possible unmarked grave sites, most of them were labeled “child-sized” or “sub-adult in length. Further to this, 12 of these unmarked graves average only 2.5 feet in length, which is consistent with the burial of infants and in-line with several witness accounts of infant births and subsequent deaths by survivors of the school,” said Chief Jenny Wolverine in a statement.
The First Nation was made available a vast number of records pertaining to the Beauval Residential School, including handwritten documents in French, which will be translated and analyzed. This process is expected to take several years.
The First Nation said it is hopeful these records will identify children and the Nations they belong to.
“These children and babies are no longer lost. They were never forgotten, and we find some relief that they have been discovered,” The English River First Nation Elders Council said.
The First Nation is requesting privacy over the next two weeks to conduct proper protocol and ceremony for the children.
A press conference on the findings will take place August 29 in Saskatoon.
The First Nation said it has identified other potential areas around the residential school for searching.
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.