This story may contain information that is difficult for many. A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
Williams Lake First Nation announced today (January 25) its preliminary geophysical results from the second phase of the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School investigation that covered 154 hectares.
Project Lead, Whitney Spearing said the geophysical investigation Team has surveyed 18.4 hectares with ground-penetrating radar and other technology and to date 66 reflections have been recorded at the St Joseph Mission which displays characteristics indicative of potential human burials.
She added “Current data suggest that none of the 66 reflections inside the Phase 2 area are associated with any recorded cemetery or burial areas. It must be emphasized that no geophysical investigation can provide certainty into the presence of human remains. Excavation is the only technique that will provide answers as to whether or not there are human remains present within the reflections at St Joseph’s Mission.”
WLFN Chief Willie Sellars talked about the path forward.
“The Team will continue to engage and dialogue with the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada in order to ensure that continued support for the financial aspect of this investigation is recognized and actioned and the potential exhumation in Phase 1 and 2 areas.”
Sellars noted that to date they identified 48 different nations that had kids attend the St Joseph Mission.
“For the victims of the St Joseph’s, for the survivors, and for their families, we say this, we see you, we have heard your stories, we believe you, and the work we are doing is done for the purpose of bringing the truth to light.”
A year to the day, Williams Lake First Nation reported 93 reflections during the first phase of their investigation.
–Files by Pat Matthews and Zachary Barrowcliff, My Cariboo Now