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Snuneymuxw First Nation receiving money to search old Nanaimo Indian Hospital grounds

Facility operated from 1946-1967
An Every Child Matters display set up earlier this summer at Nanaimo Military Camp, a property where Nanaimo Indian Hospital used to be situated. (News Bulletin file photo)

Snuneymuxw First Nation is receiving money to investigate physical and spiritual harm that happened on its territory.

The Find Our Lost Children effort, which has raised more than $157,000 via GoFundMe, is giving nearly half of that sum, $77,000, to Snuneymuxw to search Nanaimo Indian Hospital grounds near what is now Vancouver Island University.

Snuneymuxw Chief Michael Wyse said in a press release that he wishes to thank those involved with Find Our Lost Children for helping to bring truths “to the forefront of the national public eye” and said the generosity will help Snuneymuxw people with their healing.

“For centuries, our people carry the enormous emotional, physical and spiritual injury and harm of residential schools and Indian hospitals. Some of our people did not survive and were left behind in unmarked graves in our territory,” Wyse said.

Nanaimo Indian Hospital was one of three facilities of its kind in B.C., operating between 1946 and 1967, according to last year’s In Plain Sight report on Indigenous-specific racism in B.C. health care. The hospitals were “established primarily to allay white settler fears associated with the communicability of tuberculosis” and to save money, the report noted, and added that “Indigenous peoples were being used for medical research and experimentation.”

The release from Find Our Lost Children said “forced sterilization” also happened at the hospitals and “patients who attended were kept for years, denied visitation and some never returned home.”

The money will be presented in ceremony Wednesday, Sept. 15, at Snuneymuxw First Nation chief and council chambers. The Ahousaht First Nation previously received $75,000 from the fund.

The B.C. government, earlier this summer, created a $12-million fund for communities near former residential schools and Indian hospitals, to be used for search efforts and mental health supports.

READ ALSO: B.C. approves search funds for 18 residential schools, 3 hospitals

READ ALSO: More than 160 unmarked graves found near former residential school on Penelakut

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