Ground penetrating radar or GPR is a geophysical technique that looks for changes in signals sent by the GPR as they move through the ground and return to the antenna. GPR data is not able to confirm the presence or absence of human remains but can signal anomalies that need further analysis.

Source: Summary of the Phase 1 Ground-Penetrating Radar Search at Blue Quills IRS, AB

Used as an umbrella term to include any areas independently identified by two or more analysts in the GPR data as containing burial traits associated with known graves in the area.

Source: Summary of the Phase 1 Ground-Penetrating Radar Search at Blue Quills IRS, AB

Used to describe reflections in the GPR data that have traits consistent with burials seen in the published scientific literature but that lack local comparison.

Source: Summary of the Phase 1 Ground-Penetrating Radar Search at Blue Quills IRS, AB

The word ‘discovery’ implies that no one knew the remains of children were there in the first place. Survivors of residential school have always known that children died at residential schools and knew or suspected that there were graves at residential school sites. In addition, the family members of those children who never returned home knew, in some cases, that their children were buried at or near the residential school.

Kimberly Murray, the Special Interlocutor on Missing Children and Unmarked Graves has a mandate to identify needed measures to ensure the respectful and culturally appropriate treatment and protection of unmarked graves. She has indicated that accessing records, completing funding proposals, and dealing with landowners, municipalities, permits, and developments, are issues that have impacted the ability for some communities to start ground searches.

Source: Office of the Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools

Article: How First Nations are confronting potential unmarked graves

Criminal charges for residential school abusers are uncommon. Some abusers are still alive and free.
The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement included a process to compensate survivors who experienced physical and sexual abuse called the Independent Assessment Process (IAP). The IAP did not include any criminal proceedings as it was focused on compensating survivors. There are instances where an abuser has been charged, but in those circumstances, the Survivor filed criminal charges themselves.

Source: Independent Assessment Process (IAP) Fact Sheets

There is currently no standard on what language to use when discussing GPR results as many communities use different terminology for the same reference. Given this, it is difficult to accurately identify the number of graves recovered. What is most important is the memory of the children lost and honouring their lives. In 2019, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation launched the Memorial Register using data from the National Residential School Student Death Register. The registry currently has 4,130 children identified who died while in residential school. We know the actual number of residential school deaths is much higher than this.


Summary of the Phase 1 Ground-Penetrating Radar Search at Blue Quills IRS, AB

Government of Canada: Missing children and burial information

The 215+ Pledge is a call to action to come together to #DoSomething to make sure no child who died at residential school is forgotten and that the experiences of all of those who attended residential school are honoured.

Learn more here

Canada Suicide Prevention Service 24 Hour Crisis Line:


Text 45645 (4PM – 12AM EST)

Kids Help Phone 24 Hour Services:

1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868

Live chat 6:00 pm – midnight EST: https://kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat

Crisis Support by Province:


Mental Health Crisis Lines and Mental Health Resources for Indigenous Community Members

Hope for Wellness – Indigenous help line:


Online chat: https://www.hopeforwellness.ca/

Indian Residential School Survivor 24 Hour Crisis Line:


Canada Suicide Prevention Service 24 Hour Crisis Line:


Text 45645 (4PM – 12AM EST)

Kids Help Phone:

Indigenous Peoples can connect with an Indigenous volunteer crisis responder, when available, by texting FIRST NATIONS, INUIT or METIS to:

686868 for youth

741741 for adults

Government of Canada: