The recent discovery of more than 215 Bodies Discovered in the grounds of what was once the country’s largest Indigenous residential school — where Indigenous children were sent after being removed from their communities — was described by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter” of the country’s history.
Tk’emlps te Secwépemc Chief Rosanna Casimir confirmed the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia earlier this week.
The bones were discovered by a radar expert who has yet to complete a search of the school’s grounds, according to Casimir.
According to a 2015 report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, residential schools were “an important element of a conscious program of cultural genocide” against the country’s Indigenous population. According to the research, the system was established to separate Aboriginal kids from their families and “indoctrinate children” into a new culture. It has been in place for more than a century, with the last such school closing in the 1990s. Many incidents of physical abuse and neglect were described in the study.
According to a 2015 assessment, at least 150,000 Indigenous children were enrolled in the system during its operation, with more than 6,000 thought to have died. According to the research, about half of the cases had no recorded cause of death, and the exact number of deaths is unlikely to ever be known due to a large number of lost and incomplete records. According to Casimir, enrolment at Kamloops Indian Residential School, which operated from 1890 to 1978, peaked at roughly 500 students at any given period.
“It’s heartbreaking to learn that 215 bodies have been discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School,” Perry Bellegarde, national leader of the Assembly of First Nations, tweeted. “While finding burials at previous Residential Schools in [Canada] is not uncommon, it is always painful to have that chapter’s wounds exposed. Let us remember them.”
he news “breaks my heart,” Trudeau remarked. According to The Associated Press, the Canadian government apologized for the residential school system in 2008, but Pope Francis has not apologized for the role of the Catholic Church, which operated around two-thirds of the schools.
In a statement, Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, said, “The mistreatment of Indigenous children is a tragic and disgusting aspect of Canada’s past.” “Residential schools were part of a colonial strategy that separated Indigenous children from their homes, and we are committed to assisting survivors, their families, and communities in their recovery journeys.”