Survivor wants southern Alberta residential school sites searched for human remains

WATCH ABOVE: Indigenous groups across Canada are calling for more searches of residential schools sites — calls that are being echoed in southern Alberta. As Erik Bay reports, local advocates feel there is much more to be uncovered.

Mike Bruised Head says he isn’t surprised by the discovery of a mass grave at the site of a former Kamloops residential school.

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In fact, he believes there are more just like it, including in southern Alberta.

“They’ve got their own gravesites, but what about adjacent (or) close to the buildings?” Bruised Head says.

“If that happened over there, then the possibilities are enormous.”

Last week, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc band confirmed the remains of 215 children were found to be buried on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

A residential school survivor, Bruised Head spent over a decade at St. Mary’s Residential School on the Blood Reserve and remembers parents waiting for children who would never come.

“Eventually, the missionaries would go out and tell (them)… ‘Your daughter — or your son — passed away three years ago.'”

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Bruised Head wants to see more searches for remains at residential school sites.

The Piikani Nation was the site of two residential schools, both of which closed in 1961.

Coun. Riel Houle says an investigation to find answers would help heal the community.

“The residential schools have really done a number on our people,” Houle says. “Today you could really see it in different forms and different ways.

“It’s a really traumatic time.”

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Local advocates say searching residential schools would provide overdue action towards reconciliation.

“Let’s identify them — who these children belong to, who their family were, who they were — and let’s remember them,” Houle says.

There were four residential schools in total on the Blood Reserve and Piikani Nation, the last of which closed in 1988.

Survivors of the residential school system can get support through Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program 24/7 crisis line by calling 1-866-925-4419.

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