An Edmonton-area addictions treatment centre is hosting an event this week for residential school survivors, including those who attended a residential school that once operated on its grounds.
Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centre Society, located in Sturgeon County, is hosting the event this Monday and Tuesday. It features talks from local First Nations leaders, elders, academics and residential school support workers.
The society recently called on the provincial government to return a parcel of land next to the property which they believe may contain unmarked graves of children who attended the school.
“Poundmaker’s Lodge Treatment Centres Society continues to work toward ensuring preservation of this sacred land,” a description of the event reads. “The gathering will be taking place to honour and support all Edmonton Indian Residential School Survivors to discuss plans for the next steps.”
“It is our mission to preserve and share the stories of those innocent and precious children who were affected by the Edmonton Indian Residential Schools and to ensure their stories continue to be told, and so that others will not forget.”
According to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the Edmonton (Poundmaker) residential school operated between 1924 and 1968. For most of its existence, it was administered by the United Church. By 1930, it had over 200 residents and variously took students from B.C., the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
The centre lists nine students who are known to have died while attending the school.
Poundmaker’s Lodge said last month that survivors have previously identified burial sites on the school grounds — findings that have been confirmed with ground-penetrating radar.
“Moving forward, there is a plan in place to continue to work with ground penetrating radar in further exploration of additional burial sites which are known to exist,” the organization said in a statement.
Speakers at the survivor’s gathering included Enoch Cree Nation Chief Billy Morin and Prof. Peter Dawson, head of the anthropology and archeology departments at the University of Calgary.
—with files from Ashley Joannou