Vancouver Island First Nation to receive $77K to search grounds of former Nanaimo Indian Hospital

A Vancouver Island First Nation will receive $77,000 to search for unmarked graves on the site of the former Nanaimo Indian Hospital.

The money is the last disbursement from an online fundraising campaign that raised $157,000 to search for unmarked Indigenous graves in the wake of the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The Snuneymuxw First Nation near Nanaimo says it will use the $77,000 to access ground-penetrating radar to identify graves near the former hospital grounds.

According to the University of British Columbia’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, the Nanaimo hospital was one of at least three such hospitals established by the Canadian government in the 1930s, where experimental treatments were practised on Indigenous patients.

The Nanaimo hospital closed in the late 1960s.

“For centuries, our people carry the enormous emotional, physical and spiritual injury and harm of residential schools and Indian hospitals,” said Chief Michael Wyse of the Snuneymuxw First Nation in a statement Tuesday.

“Some of our people did not survive and were left behind in unmarked graves in our territory,” Wyse added.

In July, the Ahousaht First Nation received $75,000 from the same GoFundMe campaign to search the grounds of a former residential school site.

The Snuneymuxw First Nation will hold a ceremony Wednesday morning to accept the funds.