B.C. First Nation surveys school site as it hosts meeting on unmarked graves

A First Nations community in B.C.’s northern Interior that is hosting a gathering of Indigenous groups involved in the search for unmarked graves says it’s conducting a geophysical survey for such sites on the grounds of a former residential school.

The Nadleh Whut’en Indian Band, whose territory is about 900 kilometres north of Vancouver, says surveyors are using ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry to detect anomalies at the site of the former Lejac Residential School that closed in 1976.

The building was razed in 1990, and the band says as many as 7,850 Indigenous children from 74 First Nation bands attended the school during its 54 years of operation.

The announcement comes as the Nadleh Whut’en band hosts the fifth gathering of First Nations that are investigating potential grave sites across the province.

A joint statement by the Nadleh Whut’en band, the Stellat’en First Nation and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations says representatives from communities surveying 18 former residential schools and three former hospitals will share what they have learned in the process of trying to identify unmarked graves.

The Nadleh Whut’en band says it will share details of the geophysical survey at Lejac Residential School as they become available.