Possible unmarked infant and child graves found at Beauval Indian Residential School

Photos courtesy of English River First Nation. Beauval Residential School burial cemetery photos approved for media publication.

With Phase 1 of a search of the Beauval Indian Residential site complete, using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology, English River First Nation say the search revealed, “Areas of Interest (AOI’s) consistent with what they believe to be “83 possible unmarked graves,” according to an English River First Nation (ERFN) news release dated Aug. 8.

EFRN began Phase 1 of the search in August 2021 and have completed and covered “a large area in and around the school grounds cemetery.”

“It is with sincere sadness that we announce that upon further investigation and study of these possible unmarked grave sites, most them are labeled as “child-sized’ or “sub-adult” in length. Further to this, 12 of these unmarked graves average only 2.5 feet in length, which is consistent with the burial of infants, and in line with several witness accounts of infant births, and subsequent deaths, by survivors of this school,” English River First Nation Chief Jenny Wolverine, is reported as saying in the news release.

ERFN has a special council set up to provide guidance and direction into the next steps in the search as “additional sites have been identified by survivor accounts and will be searched by the GPR team over the next year,” quoted from the news release.

“Our Elders and survivors are requesting privacy for the next two weeks to ensure that proper protocol and ceremony can be done to honour the lives of these babies and Children … We would ask the public and media respect the privacy of the First Nation and community of Beauval, as our community members process this sensitive and delicate matter,” Chief Wolverine is quoted as saying.

The search for and identification of the babies and children is expected to continue over the next two to three years.

ERFN will hold a press conference on Tuesday, Aug. 29, in Saskatoon, where media inquiries will be addressed. More information will be provided at that time.

The Indian Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419 provides emotional and referral services for anyone affected by experience of the Indian Residential Schools and/or reading difficult stories related to the schools.