09/27/2016 11:59 EDT | Updated 09/27/2016 12:00 EDT

Regina Residential School Cemetery Granted Heritage Status

The school was built in 1891.

REGINA — An abandoned cemetery near the former Regina Indian Industrial School has been granted municipal heritage status.

City council voted unanimously Monday to approve the designation, which allows officials to assess the merits of the property and review any plans for demolition or significant changes.

Civic administrators suggested the move after a 2014 land survey found there were potentially 22 to 40 unmarked graves of children in the cemetery.

The west-side school was built in 1891 and ran until 1910 with the goal of assimilating First Nations children.

Unknown how many students died there

An unknown number of students died there.

In 2014, administrators recommended against protected status and suggested the owner of the property simply cut the grass inside the cemetery at least once a year and keep it tidy.

"One of the main considerations is that we have direct family members who are potentially buried at that site,'' said Chief Daryl Watson of the Mistawasis First Nation.

Watson also said the designation means indigenous culture is being acknowledged.

"It's basically in the same lines of what we have talked about for decades and generations ... that we take our rightful place in history.'' (CKRM, CTV Regina)

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