“There is hurt and pain in our community today. However, I would like people to know that we are not powerless here. We have put together a world class team of archaeologists, geneticists, physical and forensic anthropologists and archival researchers. Ours team brings together the kind of expertise that is needed to remedy this situation,” says Eldon Yellowhorn, SFU’s founding chair of Indigenous Studies, and Nichols’ PhD supervisor.
“Despite the associated ethical, legal and logistical challenges, the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation is committed to ensuring that community-led research is grounded in culture, following the guidance of our Elders and is conducted in a holistic and ethical way,” says Chief Jennifer Bone, SVDN.
Following the wishes and requests of the respective communities involved, the plan is to restore the children’s identity, either through commemoration or repatriation. Ultimately, the collaborators hope their efforts will provide a framework that can be adopted and applied by Indigenous communities, as a guide to initiate and proceed in their own process.
“Missing children and unmarked graves at residential schools are a forgotten human rights issue in Canada. Investigations at the Brandon Residential School seek to remove the anonymity of children’s deaths and provide answers to affected communities. By acknowledging and acting on important matters of social justice, we begin the work towards reconciliation in my home town,” says Nichols.