One quarter of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools have grave searches underway

In total, across Canada, 2207 unmarked graves of indigenous children have been discovered outside of Indian Residential Schools since the 1970s.

A total of 479 unmarked graves were discovered from 1974-2019 at five residential schools in Canada.

In 1974, 74 unmarked graves were identified at the Battleford Industrial School in Saskatchewan.

In the early 1990s, 298 graves were discovered at the Sacred Heart Mission School in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories.

During a flood in 1996, the remains of 34 people in their caskets were exposed along the banks of the Highwood River near the Dunbow Industrial School at High River, Alberta.

A ground penetrating radar search in 2012 identified 38 graves outside the Regina Indian Industrial School in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Researchers from the Muskowekwan First Nation have been looking for unmarked graves at the former Muscoweguan Indian Residential School in Lestock, Saskatchewan since 1992. To date 35 have been identified.

After the remains of  251 unmarked graves outside the Kamloops Indian Residential School made worldwide headlines — other First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities began searching grounds near their schools for the lost children who never returned home to their families.

Including the Kamloops discovery, 1728 children’s remains have been uncovered outside of Indian Residential Schools.

Currently, there are 36 former Indian Residential Schools being searched for unmarked graves. According to the TTC, a total of 139 Indian Residential School sites are scattered across Canada. That means just 25% or one-quarter of the former residential school sites have investigations underway.

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission — there are 3213 documented instances of indigenous children who died at residential schools.

One third of the deaths on record did not note the student’s name, one-quarter were not identified by gender and in half the instances the cause of death was not noted.

The TRC estimates that due to a lack of reporting of indigenous children deaths the estimated number of children who died while attending residential schools is closer to 6000.

This would seem to ring true. Currently the 2207 graves uncovered would account for 68% of the children who died at residential schools. With only a quarter of schools with investigations underway and just 11% of those reporting graves discovered — it is clear that the math, the evidence, and the documented history are not adding up.

The following schools have reported graves discovered since 2021:

Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia – 215

Brandon Indian Residential School in Brandon, Manitoba – 104

Marieval Indian Residential School in Marieval, Saskatchewan – 751

Kootenay Island Residential School in Cranbrook/Ktunaxa First Nation, British Columbia – 182.

Kuper Island Indian Residential School in Penelakut Island, British Columbia – 160.

St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, British Columbia- 93.

St. Philips Indian Residential School in Kamsack, Saskatchewan – 12.

Fort Pelly Residential School in Fort Pelly, Saskatchewan – 42.

Grouard/St. Bernard’s Residential School in Grouard, Alberta – 169.

George Gordon Indian Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan – 14.

The following schools have announced investigations are underway.

Shubenacadie Residential School north of Halifax, Nova Scotia. A previous search of the school grounds identified no graves on site. They are investigating oral history to determine which other sites associated with the school should be examined to find unmarked graves.

Mohawk Institute at Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario.

Mount Elgin at Munceytown, Ontario.

Pelican Lake Residential School at Pelican Falls (Lac Seul First Nation) in Northern Ontario.

Grassy Narrows First Nation is searching the Macintosh Residential School site near Vermilion Bay.

Garden River First Nation is investigating the Wawanosh Home for Girls.

St. Mary’s Indian Residential School is being investigated by the Wauzhuskh Onigum Nation.

Fort Alexander Indian Residential School is being investigated by the Sakeeng First Nation. They are also investigating sexual abuse at the school as well as a grounds search.

The Dakota Tipi First Nations is investigating five former schools: Portage la Prairie, Sandy Bay, Assiniboia, Brandon and Fort Alexander.

St. Micheal’s at Duck Lake, Saskatchewan.

Battleford Industrial School in Battleford, Saskatchewan. That school has 107 recorded deaths. The search began there along with another search at the nearby Delmas Catholic Residential School (Thunderchild) led by the Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs.

All-Saints – Lac La Ronge at Lac La Ronge, Saskatchewan.

Beauval Residential School outside Beauval, Saskatchewan.

Lebret Indian Residential School, also known as Qu’appelle, St. Paul’s, and Whitecalf. The Star Blanket Cree Nation is beginning a search there.

Holy Angels Residential School in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta began in March 2022.

Edmonton – St. Albert Youville Residential School near St. Albert, Alberta. They are looking at two sites around school and Metis River.

Lesser Slave Lake at Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta.

The Tseshaht First Nation is searching the Alberni Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

Christie Indian Residential School had two locations: Tofino and Opisat, British Columbia. The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has begin searching there.

Ahousaht Residential School in Ahousaht, British Columbia.

The Sto:lo Nation is investigating the Coqualeetza (Sardis), St.Mary’s (Mission) and All Hallows (Yale) residential schools that operated on their territory. As well as Coqualeetza Indian Hospital site.


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