Canada | Education

Native mother unable to visit daughter's grave after long search






Young girls are seen in September 1958 at a Native residential school in Chesterfield Inlet in present-day Nunavut. Photo from Library and Archives Canada

CBC News has an update on the heartbreaking story of a Native woman from Canada who has spent the last 50 year without knowing where her daughter was buried.

Therese Ukaliannuk went to Quebec over the weekend to find the resting place of her daughter, Marieyvonne Alaka, who died at the age of 8 after being sent to a Native residential school. She thought she had tracked the grave to a cemetery in Austin.

But she was unable to visit the cemetery on Monday because the caretaker was in the hospital, CBC reported. She also failed to find her daughter at a cemetery in nearby Magog, where Marieyvonne's funeral was held back in 1967.

"It is very difficult, it's heartbreaking not being able to find her right now," Martha Maliki, a family friend who also went to Quebec and has been helping Ukaliannuk with the long search, told CBC.

Marieyvonne was only four years old when she was sent away from her community to attend a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet in present-day Nunavut. Four years later, she died after contracting tuberculosis and tubercular meningitis, CBC reported last week.

Ukaliannuk never knew the exact whereabouts of her daughter, who was shuffled through different hospitals in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a disproportionate number of Inuit people were affected by tuberculosis from the 1940s through the 1970s. Many had to be sent far away from their communities for treatment.

In 2010, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, established Nanilavut -- "Let's Find Them" in the Inuktitut language -- to help people track down loved ones who died while being treated.

Get the Story:
With heavy heart, mother returns to Iqaluit without finding daughter's grave (CBC 7/19)

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Native mother locates grave of daughter who was sent to school (7/18)