South Peace News
Kapawe’no First Nation is planning the next steps to research 169 potential graves found at the site of a former Indian residential school in Grouard.
About 880 people attended the Grouard Indian Residential School Gathering held May 9-13 in Grouard to discuss the next steps.
Kapawe’no Chief Sydney Lee Halcrow said the work with researchers and survivors is a long process.
“What we are doing is just the tip of the iceberg to what needs to be done,” Halcrow says.
“The takeaway from this gathering is there is still a lot more work to be done in finding the truth about what happened to the children that went to these schools.
“It’s an ongoing process, but we will have the plan developed before the fall for the next gathering.”
Information from the recent gathering will be compiled into a report and shared with Treaty 8 and Indian residential schools task force committees of Treaty 8 and Kapawe’no.
“We will collectively develop a plan,” Halcrow says.
He adds leaders also want ideas and information from as many people about how to move forward.
“We will seek their feedback on matters such as a monument site to always remember the lost children and survivors, as well as a path forward to address the healing process,” Halcrow says.
“It is important survivors direct us in what we do with this knowledge.
“There is plenty more work also to be done to heal, rebuild and revive our culture.”
Kapawe’no announced March 1 that 169 potential graves at the St. Bernard Residential School were discovered in a project led by Dr. Kisha Supernant, chair of the Department of Indigenous and Prairie Archaeology at the University of Alberta.
“Our little warriors have waited for us to find them,” Halcrow says.
“Now we will ensure they rest in peace.”
The graves were found using ground-penetrating radar and a specialized drone on the site.
Research shows 32 are “possible graves”, 129 are “probable graves”, and eight are “likely graves”.
Of the 169 potential graves identified based on anomalies, Supernant says the study could not confirm or deny whether the sites were of children or adults.
She presented next steps that will be further discussed by the council that will gather stories and other information from survivors and local residents.
“From that information, we will create a scope of work on what areas need more searching from the Catholic residential school site and what areas need to be searched at the Anglican residential school site,” Halcrow says.
“We also talked about the best approach to look for more potential remains with the assistance of Dr. Supernant.”
Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey says healing starts with the truth coming out.
Treaty 8 is also extending support to survivors and their families.
“We are asking you to help us in the healing process,” Noskey says.
“We will be there to support you.”
Kapawe’no began research of the local area after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School June 1, 2021, which drew national headlines.