A northern Alberta First Nation says 169 potential graves have been found using ground-penetrating radar at the site of a former residential school.
Kapawe’no First Nation says a specialized drone was also used to find evidence of graves at the former Grouard Mission site.
The residential school, also known as St. Bernard Mission School, was opened in 1894 and closed in 1961.
The survey was conducted over a six-day span in four general areas separated into 15 individual grids, according to the final report.
These areas were identified through engagements with survivors and community members in August of 2021 and through discussions with the Kapawe’no First Nation chief and council.
The archeology department at the University of Alberta also led the project, with a full summary of the project here.
“Burial records from the parish provided to the team indicate many children who are recorded as having died while in residence at the school were buried in the community cemetery, as the names of children from the missing children register created by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation are present on the burial records from the community,” the report stated.
The team also searched areas around a church, a former nun’s residence, and an area around an old root cellar.
The First Nation also released a documentary on YouTube about the site and the project.
Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools or by the latest reports. A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected.
People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.