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Ahousaht First Nation to release findings from search for missing residential school children

April 10, 2024

News conference to be held Wednesday afternoon

Houses are in the distance on an island with water in the foreground and mountains in the background.
Ahousaht, on Flores Island, is one of B.C.’s largest coastal First Nation communities. (Chris Corday/CBC)

WARNING: This story contains distressing details

CBC Indigenous: ʕaaḥuusʔath (Ahousaht) First Nation will release the findings from phase one of its search for missing children who attended two residential schools in its territory on Wednesday in Ahousaht, B.C.

In a news release Monday, ̣̣ʕaaḥuusʔath said the findings come from ground surveys, archival research and oral history.

Ahousaht Indian Residential School on Maaqutusiis (Flores Island) and the Christie Indian Residential School on Hilth hoo is (Meares Island) were located on ʕaaḥuusʔatḥ territory, about 220 kilometres northwest of Victoria.

Ahousaht Indian Residential School opened in 1904 and ran until 1940. According to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) website, it was Presbyterian-run until the United Church took over in 1925. The website says students were not permitted to speak their Indigenous language and every staff member carried a strap. The NCTR lists the names of 13 students known to have died there. 

The residential school burned down in 1940 and was replaced with a day school. 

Christie Indian Residential School on Hilth hoo is (Meares Island) opened in 1900.

According to the NCTR website, six children died of tubercular meningitis between 1939 and 1941, and over several years in the 1950s a school maintenance worker sexually abused a student. The NCTR lists the names of 13 students known to have died there. 

After 1969, the school was administered by the federal government. In 1971, the school closed and students were moved to the Christie Student Residence in Tofino, B.C., which was transferred to the West Coast District Council of Indian Chiefs in the mid-’70s and closed in 1983.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support for survivors and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour service at 1-866-925-4419.

Mental health counselling and crisis support are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat.


Jackie McKay, Reporter

Jackie McKay is a Métis journalist working for CBC Indigenous covering B.C. She was a reporter for CBC North for more than five years spending the majority of her time in Nunavut. McKay has also worked in Whitehorse, Thunder Bay, and Yellowknife.