The RCMP is working with the First Nation in western Manitoba to investigate potential graves.
Minegoziibe Anishinabe, also known as Pine Creek First Nation, approached police this summer after a private contractor spotted irregularities underneath a church using ground-penetrating radar.
The RCMP said officers met with the sheriff, councilors and elders to discuss concerns about possible crimes related to ground irregularities after the Survivors talk about abuses that occurred in the basement of the church.
The community said six anomalies were found under the church located on the site of the former Pine Creek Residential School.
Mounties said the investigation will include several phases, with the first focusing on talking to witnesses, including elders and community members.
They say they will consider testing the site after they have gathered evidence in the early stages.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that a thorough, methodical and culturally sensitive investigation takes place. The role of the RCMP is to gather evidence to provide the answers the community is looking for. sword”, Supt. Rob Lasson said in a statement.
Pine Creek School is run by the Roman Catholic Church and operated from 1890 to 1969 in a few different buildings on a large plot of land. The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation has records of 21 child deaths at the school and student survivors who have long spoken out about abuse there.
Sheriff Derek Nepinak said survivors and members have asked leadership to conduct a detailed radar search of the base and that the community is still searching for answers.
“Minegoziibe Anishinabe has ventured down the path of identifying and sharing our difficult truth. We do this for the future well-being of our children,” he said in a statement.
“In this effort, we are aiming to establish respectful and collaborative relationships, but keeping in mind the difficulties we have overcome.”
The RCMP said the trauma informed approach will be used throughout the investigation. A liaison will help ensure ongoing and open communication between the community and the police.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on October 14, 2022.