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Piikani Nation to search residential school locations for unmarked burial sites

Click to play video: 'Piikani Nation to search residential schools for unmarked burial sites' Piikani Nation to search residential schools for unmarked burial sites
With calls across the nation to search residential schools for unmarked burial sites, the Piikani Nation will be investigating the manner themselves. As Erik Bay reports, the nation needs answers about its residential schools – Jun 8, 2021

Like his mother Cecile and Aunt Mabel before him, Leander Strikes With A Gun was sent to Sacred Heart Residential School southeast of Brocket, Alta.

Mabel died at the school when she was four, one year after she first stepped foot in the school, and was buried somewhere on the grounds.

Cecile spent years searching for her sister but never found the grave.

Read more: Survivor wants southern Alberta residential school sites searched for human remains

“All she remembers is by the fence, but not which fence,” Strikes With A Gun said.

Cecile passed away in 1981, but now, 40 years later, her family may finally get some answers.

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Click to play video: 'The technology helping Indigenous communities search for remains of lost children of residential school sites' The technology helping Indigenous communities search for remains of lost children of residential school sites
The technology helping Indigenous communities search for remains of lost children of residential school sites – Jun 1, 2021

The Piikani Nation is using LiDAR technology to map the land for a climate change project.

LiDAR can see through vegetation foliage and map surface terrain, possibly uncovering old disturbances.

Read more: Lethbridge advocates hope residential school vigil leads to change

The discovery of 215 children in unmarked burial sites at a residential school in Kamloops, B.C., has the Piikani Nation shifting the technology to search former residential school sites.

“A LiDAR flyover of the four sites where former residential schools were located,” Piikani Nation lands department manager Noreen Plain Eagle said. “Once completed, the dead will be disclosed to the Piikani chief, council and Piikani Nation members.”

The first step will be information gathering before the search is completed in July.

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Read more: First Nation in Kamloops, B.C., confirms bodies of 215 children buried at former residential school site

“Completing interviews within our community, of stories related to each of the sites, so we have a clear identification of the areas surrounding the schools,” Plain Eagle said.

Strikes With A Gun hopes the search will uncover what his mother couldn’t.

“As her children, I want to know what happened. Maybe her spirit will rest then.”

Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience can access this 24-hour, toll-free and confidential National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

Click to play video: 'Tsuut’ina Nation hosts silent march to honour residential school victims' Tsuut’ina Nation hosts silent march to honour residential school victims
Tsuut’ina Nation hosts silent march to honour residential school victims – Jun 7, 2021

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