After an 11-year investigation, the Manitoban RCMP have revealed information about sexual abuse at Fort Alexander Residential School.
By Donovan Martin Jr.
Fort Alexander was one of the many residential schools that opened in Canada with the explicit purpose of stripping Indigenous children of their culture. Though forceful assimilation of students at residential schools was blatant, hidden were numerous allegations of sexual assault. Throughout an 11-year investigation, these allegations were given light.
Fort Alexander was a Catholic Residential that opened in 1904 on what is now known as Sagkeeng First Nation. Just 120 kilometres north of Winnipeg, the residential school was active for 66 years before closing in 1970. However, it continued to act as a day school a number of years after its closing.
In a press release on July 27, 2021, the RCMP stated that their officers began canvassing Sagkeeng First Nation in February of 2010. One year later, their major crimes unit launched an investigation into the residential school. The RCMP spoke to or interacted with more than 700 people. In total, 75 statements from witnesses and victims were obtained.
The investigation warranted the RCMP sending an investigative court package to Prosecution Services to review and provide advice regarding charges. However, at the case’s current state, no charges have been laid on any specific person or body. Furthermore, when charges are laid, the victims, suspects, and witnesses will remain anonymous due to their right to privacy as is written in Canadian law.
“Violation of the privacy rights of those involved in this investigation will not only cause further trauma to everyone involved but also potentially compromise this highly sensitive investigation,” said Chief Derrick Henderson of Sagkeeng First Nation. “We ask that the trauma our community has experienced and continues to live every day is respected and that those affected are afforded their privacy at this time.”
Though news of the situation is just breaking, the investigation is far from over. And with this being the first investigation into residential schools in Manitoba, more are certainly to come both in and out of our province.