Results of the shíshálh Ground Penetration Radar

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We write to you today to inform you of the results of the Ground Penetrating Radar Investigation of the former Indian Residential School site that was on the lands of the shíshálh Nation.

This is a very challenging time for all the Survivors who attended the institution, families of students, and communities, and for the shíshálh Nation. Our focus throughout the upcoming community meetings will be on supporting Survivors, community members and staff through sacred ceremony and cultural practices.

It should be made clear that the results of the St. Augustine’s field investigations should in no way be seen to validate or invalidate the experiences of Survivors, or the knowledge held by families of those who attended. Whether or not unmarked graves are found, there is enough documented oral and archival evidence to say that these burials do or did exist.

The news of unmarked graves at Residential Schools across Canada have been deeply painful and incredibly challenging for shishalh people and for all Indigenous peoples across Canada. The truth is being heard by many settler Canadians in new ways, information Indigenous peoples have been telling Canadians for generations. There are many more truths that will be heard in the coming months. It is a horrifying and devasting history that must be grappled with.

This is an important time of reckoning for Canada, a time where history must be examined, current inequities scrutinized, and a fundamentally new path chartered. We must find a path towards truth, justice, and unity. This new path will require great change for all of us. It requires individuals and collectives to re-examine their place in Canadian society and how they are contributing to or hindering a more equitable future. This change will be hard, growth often is. The honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould recently reminded us of Chief Joe Mathias’s words, “Behold the turtle, he moves forward when he sticks his head out.” It is time for bold actions, actions that shifts our reality, actions that push us to grow, actions that shift our hearts. Shishalh has continued to show Canadians how when our hearts and minds are in the right place change can happen quickly.

On behalf of hiwus and Council
xwash Steven Feschuk