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Suspected infant graves found near former Sask. residential school

A preliminary search of a former residential school site in Saskatchewan has uncovered 83 possible unmarked graves, including 12 potential infant grave sites.

English River First Nation started searching the site of the former Beauval Indian Residential School in August 2021, using ground penetrating radar.

Based on the results of the search, the English River chief Jenny Wolverine says that most of the 83 suspected sites were classified as child-sized or "sub-adult."

"Further to this, 12 of these unmarked graves average only 2.5 feet in length, which is consistent with the burial of infants, and in line with several witness accounts of infant births and subsequent deaths, by survivors of this school," Wolverine said in a news release.

A cemetery located near the former site of the Beauval Indian Residential School. (English River First Nation)

According to a spokesperson for the First Nation, survivor accounts point to additional potential sites that will be searched over the next year.

The community also hopes a collection of records, including documents handwritten in French, that were provided to the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation will help identify children who may have lost their lives at the school.

The process of analyzing the documents is expected to take two to three years.

The First Nation has asked for privacy at this time and plans to hold a news conference later this month to discuss the findings. 

Beauval Indian Residential School was first founded in 1860 and operated for more than 100 years, according to the University of Regina. It was operated by a Roman Catholic mission until 1969.

In 2013, a former dormitory supervisor at the school was convicted of indecent assault and gross indecency for assaults on young boys between 1959 and 1967.

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 at 1-866-925-4419, or the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll-free line at 1-800-721-0066.

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

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