Remains of 182 people found in unmarked graves near former residential school outside Cranbrook, B.C

kootenay

VANCOUVER -- Another Indigenous community in B.C. says ground-penetrating radar has found human remains near a former residential school.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Lower Kootenay Band said remains of 182 people were found in unmarked graves close to the former St. Eugene's Mission School near Cranbrook. 

The statement says the Aq'am community conducted the search in 2020. It also says the residential school operated from 1912 to the 1970s.

"Some of the findings had the human remains buried in shallow graves only three to four feet deep," the statement says, explaining the Lower Kootenay Band is a member band of the Ktunxa Nation.

"Many Lower Kootenay Band members were forced to attend the St. Eugene's Mission School."

About 100 band members attended that residential school, the statement says. 

The announcement comes just over a month after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced the remains of 215 children were found buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops. 

Weeks later, the Cowessess First Nation said 751 unmarked graves were found near a former residential school in Saskatchewan. 

About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children attended residential schools. Families who resisted the system had children forcibly taken away by the RCMP.

The schools were known for overcrowding, poor sanitation, unhealthy food and menial labour. Harsh punishment was given to students who spoke their native language or took part in traditional ceremonies.

With files from The Canadian Press

If you are a former residential school student in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here.  

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