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Children's bodies could have been thrown in residential school dump, say survivors

Kamloops school dump site to be searched as grave investigation continues
kamloops residential school
First Nation band Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc announced Thursday that the dump at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School should be searched for more bodies.

Warning: This story may be distressing to readers.

The school dump at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School should be searched for children's bodies. Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc (TteS) announced Thursday.

“We have had survivors say probably our next step should be the old dump site at the residential school and the old stories of children being thrown in the dump,” says Ted Gottfriedson, the language and cultural department manager at TteS.

Gottfriedson made the revelation during a webinar Thursday morning, hosted by Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc. The webinar saw archaeologists discuss the techniques being used for the continuing research into the 215 children’s graves found at the former residential school site.

“Everything we’re doing is for those 215 kids,” he said. “It’s 215-plus. It’s not done.”

The archaeologists explained how ground-penetrating radar (GPR) could be assisted with other technology to identify grave sites.

The work would be done in cooperation and consultation with local communities and survivors. It would also recognize culturally appropriate practices.

The provincial government will provide $475,000 to each of B.C.’s 18 Indian residential school sites and three hospitals for work to investigate and exhume graves at those sites, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin said July 20.

On May 27, Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir announced 215 graves had been located on the grounds of the school. She said the discovery was made with the use of GPR.

Earlier this month, the Penelakut Tribe said about 160 undocumented and unmarked graves have been found at the site of the Kuper Island Indian Residential School.

And, the ʔaq’am Indigenous group of the Ktunaxa First Nation announced in late June the finding of 182 graves near Cranbrook. Other Indigenous groups such as Williams Lake First Nation are also doing ground-penetrating radar work.

For immediate assistance to those who may need it, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.