Search begins for unmarked graves at former Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., residential school

After lots of talk this summer, the search for unmarked graves is underway at the former Shingwauk Residential School site, at present-day Algoma University.

The work is being led by the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association, in collaboration with partners who've banded together to form a new committee for the project.

Following the discovery of 215 graves in Kamloops, B.C., the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association said it immediately wanted to do the same.

"We more or less had a talking circle and right away, they said we need to do the same thing here," said Jay Jones, site search coordinator with Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association

Jones is the former president of the association and now leads the committee formed to discover the graves at the site. He said this initiative was the right thing to do.

"To say I'm honoured is an understatement -- it's something that I'm compelled to do," he said.

Chief Dean Sayers of the Batchewana First Nation said he's excited to finally see scanning get underway. Sayers said it's an important action that will help educate future generations.

"Everybody having this knowledge across the country, can work together to prevent this sort of thing from happening again, in the future," he said.

The Métis Nation of Ontario holds two seats on the committee to discover the unmarked graves. A regional councillor for the group said some of its own members were survivors of the school -- and it's doing what it can to help.

"We're bringing the views and the resources of the Métis government to support the survivors and the work that we think they should be leading," said Mitch Case, Métis Nation of Ontario Regional Councillor.

The first round of radar has wrapped up, but crews are set to return in a few weeks.

The Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association said it should have results in about two to three months.