Decision to lay charges in Manitoba residential school investigation weeks away

Fort Alexander Residential School.
Fort Alexander Residential School. Manitoba Historical Society

A decision about criminal charges into the operation of a residential school in Manitoba is expected in the coming weeks.

The province told The Canadian Press last week that the outcome of a decade-long investigation will be coming soon.

Click to play video: 'Residential school investigation a long process'
Residential school investigation a long process

The RCMP disclosed last year that officers had conducted a large-scale investigation into the Fort Alexander Residential School, northeast of Winnipeg.

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It involved reviewing archived school records, including student and employee lists, and interviewing more than 700 people across North America.

The Mounties have said the file was sent to Manitoba Prosecution Services for review in 2020. It’s the only investigation into residential schools currently underway in Manitoba.

The school was opened in 1905 in the community of Fort Alexander, which later became the Sagkeeng First Nation. It ran for 66 years until 1970 and had a reputation for abusing students. Survivors told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about starvation and harsh discipline.

Sagkeeng First Nation began a search near the Fort Alexander school using ground-penetrating radar and drones to detect any evidence of graves last year.

A wider call for investigations into residential schools came following the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school sites. A tally by The Canadian Press in August found three other ongoing investigations into residential schools in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

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An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools. More than 60 per cent of the schools were run by the Catholic Church.

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