Warning: This story contains details about the search for the graves of
Starting this summer, the geophysical consulting and contracting firm,
GeoScan, will begin work at the site of the former Chooutla Residential
School in Carcross, hoping to identify the potential graves of children
who went missing there.
Some of the work will begin as soon as this June, with a community
report scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer.
The process involves the use of several technologies, which can "look"
inside the earth, potentially uncovering the site of hidden human
One such technology is called Ground Penetrating Radar. Mounted on a
cart, like a large lawn mower, the GPR rolls across the ground in a grid
pattern, collecting data on soil conditions, the presence of rock or
artifacts, moisture variations, soil compaction, and other factors,
buried up to two meters underground.
The company will also fly over the site with a tool called LiDAR, which
is operated from a low-flying drone. LiDAR generates highly accurate
surface maps, using laser light beams, which scan rapidly over the
ground. The LiDAR system is able to detect small depressions, mounds, or
grave markers that would be otherwise impossible to detect in vegetated
"Before we get on the ground, we will have as much information as
possible," said Brian Whiting, the GeoScan archeological geophysicist
who is leading the work in Carcross.
For that, GeoScan is relying on community knowledge. Pinpointing the
exact location within a large area, like the former Chooutla Residential
School site, requires primary location information that can only be
provided by community members and people with lived experience at the
The Yukon Residential Schools Missing Children Working Group has been
conducting interviews in Carcross this spring, hoping to learn as much
as possible about the potential locations of unmarked graves on the
Whiting says, in order to further narrow down their search, GeoScan
plans to follow a pattern research teams have been seeing across Canada
— that children are often found buried close to the school.
He says his team will start close to the former school site and work their way outward.
GeoScan encourages anyone with information about unmarked burials at the
Chooutla Residential School to get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org.Brian.email@example.com