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104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Indian Residential School Survivors Society is here to survivors and their families support at 1-800-721-0066, 1-866-925-4419 for the 24-7 crisis line.

The Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in Manitoba is working to find students buried at Brandon Indian Residential School, which was in operation from 1895 to 1972.

Simon Fraser University and University of Windsor researchers, along with the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, hope to identify an unknown number of children to restore their identities – either through commemoration or repatriation.

“The families and communities whose children were lost while attending these schools have questions that deserve answers,” said Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1.

“The children buried at these sites must have their identities restored, and their stories told. They will never be forgotten, every child matters.”

Investigations into the cemeteries and unmarked graves at the school began in 2012. A number of potential graves have so far been identified.

“Two cemeteries, one is located at the Turtle Crossing campground and the other is land owned by the Brandon research centre. We have also identified a possible third burial ground on a portion of the school property that we currently own,” Bone said.

“While employing archeological survey techniques, geophysical technologies, survival recounts and archival documents, our investigation has identified 104 potential graves in all three cemeteries, and that only 78 are accountable through cemetery and burial records.”

There is no set timeline for when their work may be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.