Photo: King5 News

PORT ALBERNI, B.C.: A British Columbia First Nation is releasing the results of a preliminary search for unmarked graves on the grounds of a former residential school.

The Tseshaht First Nation is presenting its search results in Port Alberni, B.C., after 18 months of planning and operations at the former site of the Alberni Indian Residential School.

Tseshaht Nation officials say children from at least 100 Indigenous communities attended the school when it operated from 1900 to 1973.

B.C. land surveyor GeoScan has been working on the project, using ground-penetrating radar to detect possible grave sites at the Alberni school location.

The company, which has worked at other residential school sites, began scanning at Port Alberni in July 2022.

Tseshaht Elected Chief Councillor Wahmeesh, whose English name is Ken Watts, says it’s essential to embark on what he calls “this journey of truth” despite the process being difficult for survivors.

Officials say health and wellness support staff will be on-site to assist if necessary.