“It hits home”: The survivors and their families participated in the search for graves in Sask.Boarding school venue


Warning: This story contains distressing details.

In 1944, Jenny Spyglass was almost four years old when she was separated from her mother and was forced to attend Delmas Indian Boarding School in northwest Saskatchewan.

“This is where they took my culture away,” Spyglass said. “They took away my mother’s love.”

When the car was driving towards Lloydminster in Susk on Highway 16, standing on a large green area, the 79-year-old was about 50 people who gathered in the small village of Susk del Mars on Saturday. One of them. , When starting to search for unmarked graves.

“This is where my brother died,” Spyglass continued, describing how she was locked in the basement just to hug her siblings.

“Before they took me away, we were a happy family.”

Watch | “I forgot about it,” said Janice Spieglass, a boarding school survivor:

A 79-year-old survivor of Delmas Indian Boarding School speaks at the scene while searching for an unmarked grave 1:53

The Delmas boarding school, opened by the Roman Catholic Church in 1901, was overcrowded, where students suffered from various diseases such as cold, peritonitis, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, jaundice and pneumonia and often died. According to the National Truth and Reconciliation Center.

According to the center, the school was burned down in 1948-eight years later, an inspector warned that it was a fire hazard.

This school, also known as Thunderchild Indian Boarding School, operated from 1901 to 1948 near Delmas, Sask. (Saskatchewan Archives)

“It’s time to reveal these secrets”

The Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC), representing seven aboriginal people in the area, began searching for unmarked graves at Demras School and Cemetery on Saturday.

Other natives of Saskatchewan have already embarked on this difficult task.

Soon after Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia announced the initial discovery of an unmarked graveyard at the Kamloops Indian boarding school site, Muskowekwan First Nation in Saskatchewan stated that 35 previously unidentified people had been found Remains of his student. This summer, Muscowequan Boarding School plans to do more.

Cowessess First Nation subsequently announced the preliminary findings of 751 unmarked graves A cemetery near the former Marieval Indian boarding school in Saskatchewan-this is the largest such discovery to date.

But for Saskatchewan, BATC welcomed a wider public to Delmas for the first time to witness the launch of its real-time search.

After being soiled by Alvin Baptise-he grabbed the same eagle feather he had been holding 2018 trial Checked out the fatal shooting of his nephew Colten Boushie-tourists and media were allowed to enter the venue and carefully observe the search work.

Workers from an engineering company wore orange T-shirts to commemorate the students who were forced to attend boarding school. They wandered across the ground with a ground penetrating radar device-this is a one with three mountain bike tires and a computer monitor Device.

Some Aboriginal members sometimes even took over the equipment.

“We did the first row this morning,” Battis wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.

Elder Alvin Baptiste operates a ground penetrating radar device. (Alvin Baptiste/Facebook)

Karen Whitecalf, who is responsible for organizing the search, said that BATC hopes to open a new chapter in the history of Canadian boarding schools by being completely open and transparent about its work.

“We made it public because we were tired of keeping secrets,” she said. “They have kept secrets for us for so long. Now is the time to expose these secrets and share them with everyone.”

She said the search results for the Delmas venue and other venues (including the Battleford Industrial School, Canada’s first industrial boarding school) will be announced to the public as soon as possible.

Watch | “Our culture does not dig up remains,” said search organizer Karen Whitecalf:

The Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs of Saskatchewan wants to open the Delmas boarding school graveyard search because “it’s time to reveal these secrets”. 11:03

Elder Noel Moosuk from Red Pheasant Cree Nation was one of the first people to arrive at the assembly venue in Delmas Community Hall.

“It’s a bit difficult for me,” he said of his visit. Both Moosuk’s parents went to Delmas boarding school.

“Their parents were told that if they didn’t let their children leave and came to this boarding school, their parents would go to jail or be fined,” Musuk said. “We still have a lot of stories to tell.”

Elder Mary Bernadette Fineday from Sweetgrass First Nation also attended the search operation, sitting next to the camping chair and watching.

Although she did not go to Delmas School, her father did. She said he complained that he did not learn anything there and was forced to take care of the cattle.

“They have nothing, nothing,” she said.

The father and cousins ??of Elder Mary Bernadette Fendi attended this school. (Guy Quinneville/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Fineday will visit her cousin at school.

“I used to see girls,” she said. “They used to walk in two with short hair. It’s really short. Navy blue or black skirt, white shirt, white socks.”

She said that Fineday’s late husband stayed at school for one night.

“They put on him a robe, and a nun asked him to kneel and pray, but he didn’t understand. He said,’I talked back to her in Kerry. Then she slapped me.’ He said, ‘ I ran. I don’t know whose shoes I got.'”

‘Thank you for having parents’

One of the young participants on Saturday was Storm Night from Saulteaux First Nation. Her grandparents attended Delmas School. Saturday was Night’s first visit to the site.

“It’s a very strong feeling,” she said. “I have cried many times. It hit home.”

She said that the trauma of the school has been passed down.

“My parents went to day school,” she said. “My family is addictive. I grew up in a foster family all my life. It’s really hard to understand what happened, and it’s hard to understand why what happened in my home happened.”

The grandparents of the storm night attended school. Saturday was her first visit to the website. (Guy Quinneville/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Night and others say that search also provides an opportunity to end and heal.

Little Pine Cree Nation Chief Wayne Semaganis, Join others Call on Pope Francis to visit Saskatchewan to pay compensation for the role of the Catholic Church in boarding schools.

“If he really is a man of God, he doesn’t need to be asked to come here and say,’I’m sorry,'” Semaganis said.

Decades ago, her childhood suddenly turned upside down Jenny Spyglass (Jenny Spyglass) sent a message to young people.

“Just thank you for having parents and someone you love,” she said. “When you see your parents, your elders, be nice to them. Hug them.”


Anyone affected by the boarding school experience and those affected by the latest report can receive support.

A nationwide Indian boarding school crisis hotline has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can call the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419 for emotional and crisis referral services.


Do you have information about unmarked graves, children who have never returned home, or boarding school staff and operations? Email your tips to the CBC Investigative Boarding School’s new Aboriginal leadership team: [email protected].





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