Chief Jenny Wolverine says search has found 93 unmarked graves — 79 children and 14 infants
English River First Nation has found what it says are 93 unmarked graves in and around the former Beauval Indian Residential School's cemetery, 10 more than the community announced in an initial update earlier this month.
"To date, there are 93 unmarked graves, 79 children and 14 infants. We initially issued a press release that indicated that there were 83. However, the additional number was confirmed by the archeologist when he placed the flags," Chief Jenny Wolverine said in a news conference Tuesday in Saskatoon.
"Let me be clear that this is not a finality. This is not a final number. It breaks my heart that there are likely more, or even that there is even one. The experience of residential school is horrific."
Wolverine said the findings impact 16 communities in the northwest, including Métis communities. She said this shows that the stories about the treatment at residential schools handed down for generations, "are based on fact."
According to a University of Regina publication, the Beauval Indian Residential School became an official boarding school with government funding in 1897 and operated until 1983.
Wolverine said that while the school is now closed, it still impacts the communities today "through loss of language and culture."
'It doesn't all come down to dollars and cents': ChiefWolverine said the community needs holistic support to inch closer to the healing process physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. She said they also need more resources to keep finding the truth.
"It doesn't all come down to dollars and cents.… It takes a whole community," she said with tears in her eyes.
Wolverine said Canada and Saskatchewan should accept the wrongs committed at residential schools and never let history repeat itself.
"Acknowledge the cultural genocide, dehumanization of First Nations and Métis cultures of the past. Put words into action. Have the political will to implement the calls to action," she said.
"We have heard, 'I am sorry.' Now, we need to see action. That means continuing to bring home the children we lost at the hands of residential schools."
The community wants to erect culturally appropriate memorials, including a monument to acknowledge all residential schools.