Canada | Education | Health

Native mother locates grave of daughter who died after being sent to residential school






A view of Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo by Aaron M Lloyd

A Native woman from Canada has finally found the grave of her daughter, who died nearly 50 years ago after being sent to a residential school, CBC News reports.

Marieyvonne Alaka was only four when she left her community in present-day Nunavut. Four years later, she died after contracting tuberculosis and tubercular meningitis, CBC reported.

But Therese Ukaliannuk, the girl's mother, was never fully informed about her daughter's whereabouts during her treatment, according to CBC. Marieyvonne attended school in Chesterfield Inlet in Nunavut and was sent to hospitals in Manitoba, Ontario and then Quebec, where she died in 1967.

Even then, Ukaliannuk was never told that Marieyvonne had been buried in Austin, Quebec, CBC reported. A family friend helped locate Marieyvonne using the girl's Eskimo identification number.

"I'm going to move forward now. So I feel the weight has been lifted off of me as we're about to leave," Ukaliannuk, 76, told CBC in the Inuktitut language and she embarked on the long journey from Nunavut to Quebec to visit the grave.

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:
After 50-year search, Inuk mother finds daughter's grave 2,000 km from home (CBC News 7/17)