PORT ALBERNI, B.C. — A Vancouver Island First Nation says it has taken the first steps toward locating possible unmarked graves at the former site of the Alberni Indian Residential School.

A statement posted Wednesday by the Tseshaht First Nation says “foundational work” to locate any graves at the site just outside Port Alberni, B.C., has begun.

Preparation to use ground-penetrating radar at the site is underway but the statement says work won’t begin until soil conditions are ideal.

Tseshaht leaders say cultural support will be provided and they urge those who attended the school to share their knowledge with the research and investigation teams.

Senior levels of government have announced that $1 million is available over two years to help the Tseshaht work with survivors to locate and honour children who never returned home from the school.

The Alberni Indian Residential School operated between 1900 and 1973.

Similar investigations are being done at former residential schools around B.C.

The work began after the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in Kamloops announced last spring that ground-penetrating radar had identified what are believed to be more than 200 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school on its territory. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press