Manitoba RCMP investigate unmarked graves discovered near former residential school | Native Residential Schools
This summer, ground-penetrating radar searches at Pine Creek revealed the presence of an anomaly on the grounds of a church near a former Indian residential school.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) opens an investigation into anomalies detected in the ground near a former Indian residential school in western Manitoba. A ground-penetrating radar search conducted this summer in Pine Creek First Nation suggests that these may be unmarked graves.
Six of the anomalies were reported in June this year and another 14 in August under a Catholic church close to the old boarding school. The findings were made by British Columbia-based company AltoMaxx.
Pine Creek Chief Derek Nepinak says the number of anomalies detected has now risen at 71.
Mr. Nepinak says five sweeps have been completed to date, covering an area of approximately 40 hectares.
In August, the chief explained that the anomalies measured between 1m and 1.25m long, and that they corresponded to unmarked burials discovered in Canada and elsewhere.
Thursday, the community also known as Minegoziibe Anishinabe held a banquet attended by officers from Major Crimes Services and the local RCMP detachment.
According to a police statement, investigators discussed how to conduct this survey while respecting the culture and needs of the community.
The investigation will therefore be carried out in collaboration between the RCMP and Pine Creek, according to Derek Nepinak. The First Nation will assign process delegates and language speakers for translation services.
“There is no no established guidelines, protocols or parameters on what we call a collaborative investigation with the RCMP. It is the first of its kind.
—Chief Derek Nepinak, Pine Creek First Nation
The RCMP must ensure the investigation is thorough, methodical and culturally appropriate, and gather the evidence to provide the answers the community is looking for, says Major Crimes Officer in Charge Rob Lasson.
As part of the initial phase of the investigation, officers will gather all possible information about the anomalies, identify witnesses and begin interviewing them, the all using a trauma-informed approach.
Police will also consider a review of the site based on analysis of the evidence gathered during this first phase, as detailed the press release.
Many First Nations across Canada have begun research on the sites of former residential schools, after the discovery of more than 200 unmarked graves in Kamloops, British Columbia, in 2021.
With information from Chelsea Ke pm