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Williams Lake First Nation to release findings of St. Joseph’s Mission investigation

On Jan. 25 chief and council will discuss preliminary findings from the former residential school
Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nation attend a ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing.

Chief and council of the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) have set a date of Jan. 25 to publically release the preliminary geophysical results from the first phase of the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School investigation.

WLFN postponed the previously scheduled release of the results Dec. 7 in order to give adequate time for neighboring First Nation communities to put in place the necessary health and wellness supports, WLFN noted in a news release issued Jan. 6.

“This has been an extremely challenging time for WLFN and other First Nations who were affected by the facility at St. Joseph’s,” stated WLFN Chief Willie Sellars. “We have out of necessity in the course of our investigation opened old wounds and asked people to recount some terrible and harrowing stories. But the information provided has helped shape our investigation and I’m thankful to make progress on this first phase of our work.”

WLFN will be conducting a meeting with the chiefs of the communities directly affected by the operations at St. Joseph’s Mission on the morning of Jan. 25 and will provide the chiefs with an opportunity to ask questions of the technical experts involved in the first phase of investigations. This session is closed to the media and to the public, and attendance is by invitation only.

In the afternoon of Jan. 25, a formal press conference will be held to announce the preliminary results of the geophysical investigation.

“We know that everyone is eager to receive these results,” noted Sellars. “But we’re asking that everyone be patient and respectful of the process. Our key concern is the mental health and welfare of the survivors of St. Joseph’s, and that of their families. We’re trying to conduct this process in as orderly a fashion as possible.”

WLFN set out to investigate the grounds of the notorious former residential school near Williams Lake following the May 27, 2021 announcement by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation that the remains of 215 children were found buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The findings shocked the nation and led to several similiar investigations of residential sites across the country.

Read More:Remains of 215 Indigenous children found buried at former Kamloops residential school

Read More: Indigenous communities rocked by Kamloops residential school burial discovery

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Organizers had to move the venue from the former St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School to the Williams Lake First Nation arbor due to the sheer number of people wanting to attend in September, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

A desire to travel led me to a full-time photographer position at the Williams Lake Tribune in B.C.’s interior.
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