Shomporko Online News Desk: For the past decade, Manitoba RCMP has been investigating allegations of sexual assault at the former Fort Alexander Residential School on Sagkeeng First Nation.
The investigation into historical claims began in February 2010, according to police, and includes investigators looking through archival data in both Manitoba and Ottawa.
The RCMP said its officers began canvassing the more than 700 people listed in their research across North America after combing through hundreds of documents, then launched a criminal investigation in 2011 and took 75 official witness and victim statements.
The investigation has involved more than 80 RCMP staff, as well as engagement with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Southern Chiefs Organization, and the chief and council of Sagkeeng First Nation.
The complex investigation, police said, resulted in a package sent to prosecution services for review and advice regarding potential charges.
Manitoba RCMP said this is their only current investigation into residential schools in the province, and due to the fact that charges have yet to be laid, they won’t be providing any further details, despite the public interest in residential school abuses.
The Fort Alexander Residential School operated from 1905 to 1970, and children from 21 communities were sent there.
Last week, Sagkeeng chief Derrick Henderson said his community had begun searching the site with the use of ground-penetrating radar technology, in light of recent discoveries of unmarked graves at similar residential schools across Canada.
The First Nation has not yet released the results of that search publicly.
Henderson said Tuesday that the past two days have been difficult and that the preceding week has taken a toll on residents. He’s requesting privacy in order to avoid more trauma.
“Violations of people implicated in this investigation’s privacy rights will not only cause additional trauma to everyone affected but might also jeopardize this very sensitive investigation,” he said in a statement.
“We ask that the tragedy our community has gone through and continues to go through every day be respected and that individuals who have been affected be given their privacy at this time.”