by Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – The Piikani First Nation is beginning the process of searching the sites of four former residential schools on its territory, with work set to commence Aug. 27, the Calgary Herald reports.
A task force of Nation councillors, leadership and Elders has formed to oversee these searches and any others that occur on reserve.
SNC Lavalin will conduct the search with its ground penetrating radar and the task force will report back to the chief and council periodically to keep them up-to-date with the findings.
“We are also collecting (Elder) stories, and asking members to come in and share their stories and we’ll collect the narrative to see if there are any other sites that there may have any unmarked graves of any residential school attendees,” task force leader Carolynn Small Legs told the Herald.
“We will be working with our Elders entirely to develop the next step if there are unmarked graves, and we do find the existence of any former residential school attendee.
“We’re taking it slow because we want to do this right.”
Piikani prevention and counselling services will be available throughout the searches to provide mental health and wellness supports for community members, she added.