Warning: This story contains painful details.

The RCMP of Manitoba said they have been investigating allegations of sexual abuse at a former boarding school in Sagkeeng First Nation for more than a decade.

Fort Alexander Boarding School Opened in 1904 in what is now known as Sagkeeng First Nation — Located about 120 kilometers north of Winnipeg. It closed in 1970 but continued to operate as a day school for many years.

In a press release issued on Tuesday morning, the RCMP stated that their crime squad began investigating allegations of school sexual abuse in February 2010, and launched a formal criminal investigation a year later.

The RCMP stated that during the investigation, they obtained 75 statements from witnesses and victims.

The press release stated that prior to this, they also sorted through the archives of Manitoba and Ottawa and reviewed thousands of documents, such as student and employee lists and quarterly returns.

In addition, the survey involved conducting house-to-house surveys in the Sagkeeng First Nation area and nearby Powerview.

After an extensive investigation involving more than 80 RCMP officers talking to more than 700 people, the police forwarded the findings to the Manitoba Attorney’s Office to review and determine whether charges were necessary.

No allegations have yet been filed.

The RCMP of Manitoba said in a press release on Tuesday that this is the only investigation into a boarding school in the province.

The RCMP usually does not discuss ongoing investigations, but said that after the Winnipeg Free Press, which first reported the RCMP investigation, decided to make the matter public.

The RCMP said in a press release: “Since there are many people affected by the investigation and the social impact is greater, we have decided to provide as much information as possible about the ongoing investigation, which is in the public interest.”

The elders and survivors of Sagkeeng First Nation have been talking about abuse and missing children in schools for a long time. Chief Derek Henderson said last week that some of these stories were included in the truth and reconciliation committee hearings.

This prompted the community to raise funds to hire a professional drone service company to use drone and ground penetrating radar technology to search for potential unmarked graves on campus.

Chief Chief Arun Dumas said that the Manitoba Council of Chiefs (AMC) has not commented on the investigation to avoid affecting its results.

He said that AMC is supporting Sagkeeng chief Derrick Henderson and his board members to cooperate with the RCMP.

Anyone affected by the boarding school’s lingering influence, and those affected by the latest report, can get support.

A nationwide Indian boarding school crisis hotline has been established to provide support to boarding school survivors and other affected people. 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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