Sask. The First Nation is learning how to conduct its own underground searches


Members of the Piapot First Nation, University of Winnipeg students and several other professionals are learning new techniques that will hopefully be used in the future for ground searches for potential unmarked burial sites.

A new company, “Kā-natonahkik-tāpwēwin,” which means “In Search of Truth” in the Cree language, is leading the training. The company, known for short as KNT IRS Consulting, is an Indigenous-owned reservation company.

The company specializes in ground searches related to unmarked graves and the Indian residential school system (IRS).

They hope to teach other Indigenous communities how to conduct searches using the necessary technologies while keeping the Indigenous goal in focus.

“Ultimately, that’s our goal. “To find out the truth about the atrocities of the past and change the narrative across Canada from negative to positive,” said Nadine Obey, CEO of KNT IRS Consulting.

The group is currently together for two weeks. They camp together and absorb a variety of information.

There is a large overlap between indigenous and western ways of knowing, which organizers believe is essential for a successful search in the future.

“These students were completely immersed. Understand and lecture, not only on the equipment but also on the implications of the IRS system. Talking to survivors, praying together, holding cultural events, because this work cannot be done in a bubble,” said Dr. Tina Greenfield from the University of Winnipeg.

Obey hopes communities realize the importance of doing the work themselves.

“We want our own people, our own communities, to be the ones doing the sacred work. To be in their own cemeteries, in their own sites, and to find their ancestors. With proper ethics and respect for the sites,” Obey said.

Upon completion, students receive six credits that go toward their education, and Piapot members receive a certificate.

There are plans for future courses that build on the learning exercise.