Home Posts Over 200 Children's Bodies Were Discovered At A Former Indigenous School In Canada.
Over 200 Children's Bodies Were Discovered At A Former Indigenous School In Canada.

Over 200 Children's Bodies Were Discovered At A Former Indigenous School In Canada.

KAMLOOPS, British Columbia (AP) — The remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, have been discovered buried on the grounds of what was once Canada's largest Indigenous residential school, one of the institutions that housed children taken from families across the country.

The remains were confirmed last weekend with the help of ground-penetrating radar, according to Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in a news release.

Casimir stated on Friday that more bodies could be discovered because there are more areas to search on the school grounds.

She described the discovery as an "unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented at the Kamloops Indian Residential School," which was once Canada's largest residential school.

From the nineteenth century to the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society, where they were forced to convert to Christianity and were not allowed to speak their native languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.

In 2008, the Canadian government apologized in Parliament, admitting that physical and sexual abuse in schools was widespread; many students recall being beaten for speaking their native languages; they also lost contact with their parents and customs.

Indigenous leaders have identified a legacy of abuse and isolation as the root cause of the epidemic rates of alcoholism and drug addiction on reservations.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission report from more than five years ago stated that at least 3,200 children died as a result of abuse and neglect, with reports of at least 51 deaths at the Kamloops school alone between 1915 and 1963.

“This really brings up the issue of residential schools and the wounds from this legacy of genocide against Indigenous people,” Terry Teegee, Assembly of First Nations regional chief for British Columbia, said on Friday.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan was "horrified and heartbroken" to learn of the discovery, calling it a "tragedy of unimaginable proportions" that highlights the violence and consequences of the residential school system.

The Kamloops school was in operation from 1890 until 1969, when the federal government took over operations from the Catholic Church and ran it as a day school until 1978, when it was closed.

Casimir stated that the deaths are believed to be undocumented, though a local museum archivist is collaborating with the Royal British Columbia Museum to see if any records of the deaths can be found.

“Given the size of the school, with up to 500 students registered and attending at any given time, we understand that this confirmed loss affects First Nations communities across British Columbia and beyond,” Casimir said in an initial statement issued late Thursday.

Casimir stated that the Tk’emlups community's leadership "acknowledges their responsibility to care for these lost children."

She stated in the release that having access to cutting-edge technology allows for a true accounting of the missing children, which will hopefully bring some peace and closure to those whose lives have been lost.

Casimir stated that band officials are informing members of the community and surrounding communities whose children attended the school.

The discovery of the children's remains was described by the First Nations Health Authority as "extremely painful," and it "will have a significant impact on the Tk'emlps community and the communities served by this residential school," according to a website posting.

According to the authority's CEO, Richard Jock, the discovery "illustrates the damaging and long-lasting effects that the residential school system continues to have on First Nations people, their families, and communities."

Nicole Schabus, a law professor at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, said each of her first-year law students spends at least one day at the former residential school speaking with survivors about their experiences.

She stated that she had not heard any survivors discuss an unmarked grave site, but that “everyone talks about the kids who didn't make it.”

Australia also apologized for its so-called Stolen Generations, a group of thousands of Aboriginal children who were forcibly separated from their families as children as part of assimilation policies that lasted from 1910 to 1970.

As part of a lawsuit settlement, Canada offered compensation to those who were separated from their families for the years they spent in residential schools.

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