Ahousaht First Nation receives $75,000 to search for graves at residential schools

A First Nation on Vancouver Island will soon begin an emotional search for unmarked graves at two former residential school sites near Tofino.

The Ahousaht First Nation has received $75,000 from a GoFundMe campaign launched after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation first announced its discovery of 215 unmarked graves at a residential school in Kamloops at the end of May.

Ahousaht representatives received the funds at a public ceremony in Victoria on Saturday. The nation plans to use the funds to cover the cost of using ground-penetrating radar at two residential schools on its traditional territory.

Chief Greg Louis says the Ahousaht First Nation submitted funding proposals to the federal government a few weeks ago, but so far has not received a response.

The GoFundMe money will allow the nation to get started regardless of the response from the federal government.

"This is a nation-to-nation, brother-to-brother, sister-to-sister (relationship) that is doing this," Louis told CTV News Vancouver Island. "Some people might say, 'We don't want to take public funds,' but this is really initiated by … First Nations people that are driving this again, so Ahousaht is very thankful."

The GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $150,000 for the use of ground-penetrating radar at residential school sites on Vancouver Island. 

Organizers of the campaign are now working to determine which Island First Nation will be the next to receive funding.