High River United Church of High River, Alberta

Bearing Witness to the Findings at the Alberni Residential School

Dear Community of High River,

Please join the people of High River United Church today in a time of silent remembering and bearing witness to the pain, grief and truth of the Tseshaht First Nation.

Rev. Susan Lukey & Rev. David Robertson



The Alberni Residential School opened in 1890 under the Presbyterian Church. It burned down in 1917 and was closed for three years. In 1920, it was re-opened under the United Church of Canada. It officially closed in 1973. The Port Alberni school has been known as one of the worst cases of child physical and sexual abuse in the western provinces. Arthur Henry Plint, a former supervisor at the school, was sentenced to 11 years in jail in 1995. Over 30 individuals brought charges of abuse against Plint. A mass grave has also been identified on the former grounds of the Alberni Residential School. In 1900, it was recorded that about half of the child population died from Tuberculosis.

For more information on the Alberni School as well as other "Indian" Residential Schools run by the United Church to go to the United Church's thechildrenremembered.ca website.

From the Moderator, the Right Reverend Carmen Lansdowne:

Upon hearing the preliminary research findings on deaths and unmarked graves at the Alberni residential institution, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, Moderator of The United Church of Canada, said: “The church will not look away from the truth that continues to be uncovered. The United Church of Canada continues our commitment to live into our Apologies, to be accountable, and to further the work of truth and reconciliation in concrete acts of justice and reparation.” 


With deep remorse and grief, The United Church of Canada acknowledges the truth at the Alberni residential institution, which was run by the United Church. This is not new information for Indigenous communities; Indigenous people have been telling the world about deaths and unmarked gravesites for a very long time. We have not always listened to or heard you.  


The United Church of Canada offers our deepest sympathies for the children who died at the institution, including those who did not make it home; survivors; the families; communities; and all those impacted by Canada’s residential institution system that tore Indigenous children from their families and communities. 


The United Church of Canada was an active and willing participant in the operation of residential institutions. We were wrong to participate in this colonial, racist, and oppressive system.


In an effort to better live into our faith, we are taking steps to reconcile our legacy as perpetrators in this system. We know that our actions have directly contributed to trauma and death, loss of language and culture, breakdowns of the family unit, and intergenerational trauma.


The United Church of Canada, both regionally and nationally, hears the Tseshaht First Nation’s specific Calls for Truth and Justice directed to us, and commits to continued conversation with them about specific actions in response.

Every Child Matters



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123 MacLeod Trail S.W. High River, Alberta.

(403) 652-3168


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