Micro-drilling next step after 2,000 areas of interest found at former residential school site

It was announced on Thursday that the Star Blanket Cree Nation found over 2,000 hits via ground-penetrating radar at the former Lebret Indian Industrial School.

Sheldon Poitras, the director of operations with the project, said that not every hit means there is an unmarked grave, as it could be a rock, gravel, or tree root.

He also announced that they found a jaw bone fragment at the site, which the Saskatchewan Coroners Service analyzed. The analysis determined it belonged to a child aged four to six and is approximately 125 years old, placing it in the same time frame the first school was built on the site in 1898.

After the discoveries, Poitras said they now had to determine what the hits are.

“The plan moving forward with that is now, we have to come up with a strategy on how we are going to determine what’s a stone, what’s a piece of wood, what’s gravel, of what that might be.”

That strategy is set to include micro-drilling.

“There’s been discussions with AXIOM about doing miniature core drilling. We want to do that on a minuscule level,” he said. “We will pick an area of interest. We’ll send a core drill down, collect a sample and test that sample for DNA on an area of interest.”

As for what the plan is for if they find anything, Poitras said that they plan to leave everything where it is.

“We have some direction from our knowledge keepers from our elders from the community, and that direction is, if you find something, leave it be.”

He said that they feel micro-drilling is the best option.

“In order for us to confirm what is under the ground, this is the best option that we came up with so we don’t disturb what might be there, but at least we can at least prove that’s nothing or that’s something.”

Poitras added that they have also been able to secure agreements with some landowners to search areas once operated by the residential school.

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