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Someone Is Trying To Sell A Former Residential School On Kijiji

Community members are concerned this piece of history could be torn down and forgotten.

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A walkthrough video shared on YouTube in 2012 shows the dilapidated interior, filled with debris and crude graffiti.

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

According to the listing, the price for the property has been reduced from $99,000 to $79,000. Although "suffering from neglect," the property comes with "30s style" outbuildings, including a dairy barn.

"Move fast, great opportunity," it says.

Although the images on the post allude to the property's history, the listing does not explicitly say that the property was a residential school attended by aboriginal children from the 1890s until it was closed in 1972.

According to the Manitoba Historical Society, students were taught farming techniques while boarded at the school.

However, as with other residential schools, former students have said Birtle's methods also included abuse.

The Birtle school is mentioned several times in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's executive summary, released last month.

via Rob McInnes / Via mhs.mb.ca

One former student, Isabella Whiteford, told the commission that when she couldn't give proper answers in English, staff would pull her ears and shake her head.

In 1942, two boys were injured when a truck packed with 70 students on its way to the fields got into an accident.

In 1959, a run-away from the school told an Indian Affairs official that students had been made to work "too hard," having to work at the school barn several hours a day. The official recommended an investigation.

The property's current owner has remained anonymous, but he told the Winnipeg Free Press that he put the listing on Kijiji after local real estate agents turned it down.

Courtesy of Gordon Goldsborough

He said he's also received some backlash from people who say the listing is timed poorly around the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report.

"I can see some of the things I've said will set me up as a target for people who want to believe only the worst," the owner told the Free Press.

Waywayseecappo First Nation councillor James Cote attended Birtle, as did his father and grandfather. He'd like to see the property preserved as a reminder of what he and others endured.

He told APTN that Birtle is "a heritage building for Canadians to look at it and say, hey, we can tell them this is where we lived."

In other places, schools are being torn down. In February, demolition began on St. Michael's Residential School in Alert Bay, B.C.

Demolition of St. Michael's Indian Residential School. As ugly as it is on the outside it was uglier inside. #horrors

The community held a healing ceremony to mark the demolition. Some sang, some cried and some threw rocks as pieces of the building were torn down.

Lauren Strapagiel is Managing Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at lauren.strapagiel@buzzfeed.com.

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