Authorities say a decade-long probe into abuse at Fort Alexander Residential School is ongoing.
Since February of 2010, RCMP Manitoba's Major Crime Services has been investigating allegations of sexual abuse at Fort Alexander Residential School, located near what was called Fort Alexander and is now Sagkeeng First Nation. This is the only criminal investigation in Manitoba looking into residential schools.
"This very large and complex investigation resulted in the RCMP sending an investigative court package to Prosecution Services to review and provide advice regarding charges," RCMP Manitoba says in a statement.
Fort Alexander Residential School ran from 1905 to 1970, operating as a day school for a number of years afterwards with Indigenous and Metis children attending. This is the same school where two boys attempted to run away by boat in 1928 and drowned. Many other students ran away, an issue for the residential school. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), in exchange for land, ran this residential school for the Canadian government. OMI also ran Kamloops Indian Residential School, Marieval Indian Residential School in Cowessess First Nation, and St. Eugene’s Mission School.
"Through recent media reports we have heard of RCMP investigations into allegations of sexual abuse at the Fort Alexander Residential School in Manitoba. We have not been contacted about these investigations," Ken Thorson says in an email on behalf of OMI Lacombe Canada. "The Oblates are committed to the safeguarding of minors and vulnerable persons, and we take all such allegations seriously, and will cooperate fully in any investigations."
Travelling to the Manitoba Archives, RCMP sought information for this history-natured investigation.
"They went through thousands of documents, including student lists, employee lists, and quarterly returns. After compiling and collating all this data, investigators developed an investigative plan that began with the canvassing of people whose names had been identified in the documents as well as a door-to-door canvas in the Powerview/Fort Alexander area, where the school had been located," RCMP Manitoba says.
Police say they have spoken to more than seven hundred people across North America, looking to locate any possible victims or witnesses.
In 2011, a criminal investigation was officially launched where offices began taking formal statements and interviewing victims and witnesses. So far 75 witness and victim statements were given.
"Investigators are engaged with First Nations leadership in Manitoba, including the Grand Chiefs of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization. They have also met with the Chief and Council of Sagkeeng First Nation, the community most closely affected by the investigation."
Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson is asking for privacy for his nation at this time.
“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," Henderson says in a statement.
Mounties say more than 80 officers have been pouring over a total of 680 investigational tasks.
"Investigators also ask everyone to allow this investigation to continue, to allow Prosecution Services the necessary time to fairly evaluate the evidence and provide advice," RCMP says.
For Residential School Survivors in need of support, the Residential School crisis line is 1-866-925-4419. This is open 24/7.