This is the cairn in the Aboriginal Cemetery in St. Albert, on what used to be a corner of the property belonging to the Edmonton Residential School. It has four sides, covered with the names of the indigenous people who were buried in this plot of land between 1946 and 1966. There are 98 names.
It’s not just names, though. For each of the 98 entries, there is the place of origin of the individual, with towns and cities and settlements listed from across the northern edges of the prairie provinces and North of 60. Aklavik, Cambridge Bay, Whitehorse, Hay River, Dawson City, Coppermine, Gjoa Haven, and others.
There are also the dates they died on and the age they were when they died. Some were newborns. Some were children. There were teenagers, adults in the prime of their lives, and a few in their seventies.
What they had in common were three things: the Camsell; the fact they were indigenous; and that their final resting place was this piece of land in St. Albert, often thousands of kilometers away from their homes and families. Staring at these 98 names, the questions were clear – if not the answers. How did they come to be here? How did they die?