Jan 26, 2022

By Jane Brown

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the news from Williams Lake First Nation in British Columbia, about the possible discovery of nearly 100 unmarked graves containing remains of indigenous children brings a lot of distressing emotions to the surface.

According to the community, a preliminary geophysical investigation has identified 93 “reflections” that could indicate the number of children buried around the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School.

“And I’ve seen it, it’s massive,” said National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Roseanne Archibald, “It’s a huge area. There are many parts of that land where children could be buried that haven’t been covered by those colours that they presented on screen. So there’s land to be covered, areas to be covered.”

The school closed in 1981, after 90 years of operation.

Kukpi7 (Chief) Willie Sellars said many of the children who attended the school are unaccounted for. He also noted survivors’ accounts of the long history of sexual and physical abuse at the facility. Several former teachers were jailed in the 1980s and 1990s for sex crimes involving dozens of their students.

The investigation near Williams Lake comes after the use of ground-penetrating radar led to the discovery last year of what are believed to be 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

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