Probe into Alberta residential school links unpasteurized milk to children’s deaths

SADDLE LAKE CREE NATION — A new report from a group looking into children who died and went missing at a residential school northeast of Edmonton says unpasteurized milk was responsible for the deaths of Indigenous children at the institution.

The preliminary report was released Tuesday by the Acimowin Opaspiw Society, formed by the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in 2021 to investigate the Blue Quills residential school.

Leah Redcrow, executive director of the society, says they estimate up to 400 children died while attending the school between 1898 and when it closed in 1990.

She says their research found that the children were healthy entering the school but many became sick after drinking unpasteurized skim milk three times a day.

Redcrow says school administrators, who were not drinking the milk, were not getting sick or dying.

The report also says a mass grave identified in a local church graveyard by accidental excavation in 2004 has been confirmed by ground-penetrating radar.

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