B.C. nations say 182 unmarked graves found in cemetery near former residential school

Two First Nations say a search using ground-penetrating radar has found the remains of 182 people in unmarked graves at a site close to a former residential school in the southern Interior of British Columbia.

But the leadership of the Ktunaxa community of aq’am says several factors make it difficult to establish whether the unmarked graves contain the remains of children who attended the institution.

The Lower Kootenay Band, another Ktunaxa community in B.C.’s southern Interior, released a statement Wednesday saying ground-penetrating radar had detected the remains near the site of the former St. Eugene’s Mission School.

The statement from aq’am says the history of the area is complex and analysis of the findings is ongoing, with preliminary results finding 182 unmarked graves, some as shallow as 90 centimetres, in a cemetery next to the institution.

It says the cemetery was established around 1865 for settlers to the area and many of those buried there died at a nearby hospital that burned down in 1899.

The statement from aq’am says hundreds of Ktunaxa children and those from neighbouring Indigenous nations attended the residential institution that was operated by the Catholic Church from 1912 to 1970.

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