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Vancouver Island fundraiser to search former residential school sites surpasses goal

Last Updated Jun 8, 2021 at 8:29 am PDT

A memorial grows at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on May 28, 2021, after the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried there. (Martin MacMahon/NEWS 1130)

GoFundMe page launched to help search former residential school sites on Vancouver Island raises $134,000 in a week

Fundraiser organizers say they 'can no longer rely on government to take initiative'

There have been growing calls to search former residential school sites in Canada after remains found in Kamloops in May

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A fundraiser launched to raise money to aid more searches of former residential school grounds on Vancouver Island has surpassed its goal by a significant amount.

As of Tuesday morning, the GoFundMe page launched a week ago looking to raise $25,000 to uncover remains had raised more than $134,000.

The aim is to use the money to fund the same ground-penetrating radar used in Kamloops, where the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found in May, to search several school grounds on the Island.

“There were over 130 residential school in Canada prior to the final closing in 1996,” the GoFundMe page reads, adding, “This is not an easy task , but we feel strongly that we must take action.”

The sites the money will be used to search include where the Kuper Island Residential School on Penelakut Island, St. Michaels Residential School in Alert Bay, Christie (Clayoquot/Kakawis) School in Tofino, Alberni Residential School in Port Alberni, and Ahousaht Residential School on Ahousaht Island were located.

The federal government announced last week that it was informing First Nations across the country about how they can access funding to help search other former sites, in the wake of the discovery in Kamloops.

However, the organizers of the GoFundMe page say they’ve discussed the matter, “discussed our emotional attachment to this tragic event,” and “decided to take action.”

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“We can no (longer) rely on government to take initiative,” they wrote.

There have been growing calls for similar searches to be conducted in Canada.

The residential school system saw some 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children taken from their families and confined in conditions that constituted cultural genocide.

The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates between 4,100 to 6,000 children died of abuse or neglect between 1890 and 1996. However, Indigenous people, survivors, and experts have maintained that this number is a significant underestimation.