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Canadian indigenous community unearths remains of boarding school students



OTTAWA—An indigenous community on Canada’s west coast says it has discovered the remains of more than 200 children they believe attended public schools. Reopening the wounds of centuries of abuse of natives in the country

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia said the remains of about 215 children were found through ground-penetrating radar. which explores a neighborhood that was once a government-funded boarding school for indigenous students. Operates The First Nation, based in Kamloops. The discovery is expected to be completed in mid-June.

“We are still battling the impact,” Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation chief Rosanne Casimir said Friday at a press conference. “This loss is absolutely unthinkable.”

political leader Led by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the condolences to the indigenous community. “It̵

7;s a painful reminder of the dark and shameful chapter of our nation’s history,” Trudeau said on his official Twitter account. Mr Trudeau has worked to improve reconciliation with the country’s 1.7 million indigenous peoples, which he has focused on policy since he took office. Native Canadians make up about 5% of the total population of 38 million and are low in the range of indicators. It has higher rates of suicide, incarceration and infant mortality than the general population.

For more than a century, Canada’s residential school system has been known to separate 150,000 Indigenous children from their families. About 4,100 children die of illness or accidental while in the system. According to a 2015 investigation report, which said the school system was similar to cultural genocide. The investigation said the total number of deaths may not be known. Because the authorities at that time destroyed hundreds of records.

After a class action lawsuit against residential school survivors. Former Prime Minister Stephen canada’s harper It issued an apology to the country’s indigenous population in 2008. He said the school’s policies were “wrong, deeply damaging. and has no address in our country.”

Chief Casimir said community elders had relayed stories of abuse in the school system and missing children.

“It’s a harsh reality. It is our history,” Chief Casimir said. “This is the truth that comes out and honors those children.”

The 2015 Inquiry Report, known as the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Indigenous children at residential schools have been found to suffer poor diets. mayhem and sexual harassment Indigenous languages ​​and religions are banned in an attempt to force children to be assimilated.

The hearing, which gathered testimonies from 6,750 witnesses, recounted the experience of a student bringing a miniature totem pole she received on her birthday to a residential school in Kamloops. “When she proudly shows to any nun It was taken from her and thrown away. She was told there was nothing but the devil,” the inquiry said. By citing the testimony of a former student

Schools in Kamloops were in operation for nearly nine decades until 1978 under the Roman Catholic administration. and the registration peaked in 1950 at 500. In a statement, Bishop Joseph Nguyen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kamloops said he was disheartened to Learn about this discovery. and pledged to support the first nation He showed sympathy. “To all who mourn unspeakable tragedy and loss.”

write to Paul Vieira at paul.vieira@wsj.com

Editing and Amplification
Chief Rosane Casimir’s last name was misspelled Caismir in an earlier version of the article (corrected May 29).

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