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Battleford: Unmarked graves sought before construction begins

The search for residential school victims and unmarked graves begins before the building of a multi-million dollar interpretive center and art gallery at The Ridge.
The search for missing First Nation children has begun at the site of a former residential school in Battleford

THE BATTLEFORDS — The search for residential school victims and unmarked graves continues in The Battlefords with the start of ground penetrating radar at the site of a former industrial school and seat of government on May 19. 

Mosquito Grizzly Bear’s Head Lean Man First Nation was awarded $5.82 million from the provincial and federal government to fund the creation of an interpretive cultural centre at The Ridge, but they want to know if any children who never returned home are still waiting to be found before continuing the joint initiative with the MGBHLM Economic Development Corporation Inc.

“The purpose is to find our people and the First Nation children who went to these schools that never made it home and were never accounted for,” Grant Beaudry, CEO of MGBHLM Econmoic Development Corporation Inc., told the News-Optimist. 

The search, with the help of the University of Saskatchewan's anthropology and archaeology department, began with opening prayers aided by FSIN Senator Jenny Spyglass and a pipe ceremony at the site of the school on the morning of May 19. 

The ground penetrating radar will continue until May 24, which will culminate with a feast open to the public on May 25.

If remains are found, Beaudry noted that it will be like saying, ‘I found you’ to the missing Indigenous children.

“We’ll recognize where they’re located … respect that site and mark it.” 

Beaudry also noted that the university is expediting this process, with results expected to be known within the next three to four weeks before the ground is broken later this year for the new interpretive centre and art gallery.

“We can’t just go in and build … we have to respect,” Beaudry said, adding that “...we remember those who have passed before us.”