'A pathway to healing': Growing calls to search former Mohawk Institute in Brantford for remains of Indigenous children
BRANTFORD -- For Roberta Hill, it's not easy to revisit the former residential school where she lived as a child.
"The punishment was pretty severe sometimes and you didn’t have to do anything to get punished," she said.
At just six, Hill was taken to the Mohawk Institute in Brantford with five of her siblings. She lived there for four years.
"There was predators in here and you see that's one of the bigger problems," she explained.
Hill says the site caused painful intergenerational trauma for many, but there's hope a search of the grounds could offer more answers.
"We have heard stories over the years. I was here in 1957. The stories, they have always been there of kids buried on the site or close so it's not new to us," she said.
The Chief of Six Nations of the Grand River says the discovery of remains of Indigenous children in an unmarked mass grave in Kamloops, B.C. has shaken the Six Nations community and residential school survivors.
"It's just unfathomable to hear and to see just exactly the atrocities that took place during the residential school systems," Chief Mark Hill said.
Hill is calling on the federal government to help with a comprehensive search for missing children on the grounds of the former Mohawk Institute.
"We very much think this needs to go down a criminal investigation route," he said.
The site is now operated by the Woodland Cultural Centre.
"We have heard for years that there were deaths that occurred, I've heard stories of survivors telling me that you see one child one day and then not the next day," said Janis Monture, executive director of the Woodland Cultural Centre.
Chief Mark Hill says searches have been carried out in the past, but funding is needed to use the latest ground-penetrating radar technology.
"We have to have a pathway to healing," he said.