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Sixty-six more possible burial sites found at St. Joseph’s Mission near Williams Lake

The Williams Lake First Nation have discovered 66 more possible human burials near the former St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School near Williams Lake.

During the Phase 1 geophysical investigation, the St. Joseph’s Mission Investigation Team surveyed approximately 16 hectares of the broader 782-hectare site using ground penetrating radar (GPR) technology. All reflections in the GPR data were reviewed through a rigorous quality control process. The refined data from the Phase 1 geophysical investigation confirmed 93 reflections that were indicative of potential human remains.

Throughout the Phase 2 geophysical investigation, WLFN used the same method of GPR technology to survey approximately 18 additional hectares of land. To date, 66 reflections in that Phase 2 area have been recorded which display characteristics indicative of potential human remains. WLFN emphasizes that no geophysical investigation can provide absolute certainty as to the presence of human remains, and that excavation of these reflection areas would be required to make a definitive determination.

“As we move forward, WLFN will continue to work diligently and collaboratively with survivors and their families, our neighboring First Nation communities and their members, the federal and provincial governments, and the private landowners,” said Chief Willie Sellars. “This is a very complicated, stressful and emotionally draining process so we want to continue to conduct this investigation in as positive and supportive a way as possible. WLFN remains committed to seeking resolution and truth for those survivors and families who have lost children through the residential school system at St. Joseph’s Mission.”

A sacred fire will take place at the Elizabeth Grouse gymnasium from the afternoon of January 25 to the evening of January 28, ending with a feast, traditional dancing, and a demonstration of lahal. Everyone is welcome, including the wider non-indigenous public, and health and wellness supports will be on-site throughout the duration of the sacred fire.

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