A First Nation in eastern Saskatchewan says it has found 54 potential graves believed to hold the remains of children who attended two former residential schools.
Members of the Keeseekoose First Nation held each other and wept Tuesday as photos were revealed one by one of the locations from a ground-penetrating radar search.
The photos resembled the stories elders in the community have passed on for generations, but project leader Ted Quewezance said now the world will believe it, too.
“It was not that they could not hear, but they did not believe our survivors,” Quewezance said.
The graves were discovered on the grounds of the St. Philip’s and Fort Pelly residential schools on the First Nation’s land near Kamsack, near the Manitoba boundary about 265 kilometres northeast of Regina. Both were run by the Catholic Church.
There were 42 ground-penetrating radar hits at the Fort Pelley site and another 12 at St. Philip’s school.
“We never expected anything up at St. Phillip’s hill. That stunned the community,” Quewezance said.
“We have a residential school monument there. We have gatherings there. In our culture and traditions it’s very bad for us to be stepping over graves, and most of us probably ended up stepping on where those bodies were.”