15 'potential' gravesites found near former Yukon residential school

CARCROSS, Yukon — An investigation into unmarked graves and the deaths of children who attended the former Chooutla Residential School in Carcross, Yukon, has found 15 "potential" gravesites at or near the school.

Researchers say they've also used archival documents to identify 33 students who either died at the school or shortly after being injured there.

Brian Whiting, with B.C.-based company GeoScan which performed the ground-penetrating radar search, says "more invasive" work would be required to confirm if the sites are graves, but their location is consistent with accounts from survivors.

Whiting says Geoscan searched more than 37,000 square metres of land and all 15 potential sites were found within 58 square metres of the former school site.

Nicole Marion, with the research group Know More, says their work began in January of 2022 and included 4,500 archival documents and various access to information requests.

Marion says they have "very poor" information on where the 33 children they identified were buried.

The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation's National Student Memorial Register lists 20 students who died at Chooutla.

Marion says of the 1,300 children taken to the school, they only know the names of 900 and the home locations for about 730 of them.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 26, 2023.

The Canadian Press