KAMLOOPS, British Columbia (AP) — The bodies of 215 children, aged just three, were found buried on the grounds of Canada’s largest indigenous housing school. which is one of the institutions that detain children from families, nations
Chief Rosanne Casimir of Tk’emlaps te Secwépemc First Nation said at a news conference that the remains were confirmed last weekend with the help of ground-penetrating radar.
More bodies could be found as more areas to search on the school grounds, Casimir said Friday.
In a previous release She called this discovery “An unthinkable loss that has been discussed but never recorded at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”
From the 19th century to the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children attended state-funded Christian schools. as part of a project to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and were not allowed to speak their mother tongue. Many were beaten and verbally abused. and as many as 6,000 people died.
The Canadian government apologized in Congress in 2008 and admitted physical and sexual abuse in schools was severe. Many students remember being beaten for speaking their mother tongue. They also lost contact with their parents and traditions.
Indigenous leaders claim that a legacy of abuse and isolation is the main cause of epidemic rates of alcoholism and drug addiction on the reservations.
A report five years ago by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission said at least 3,200 children died of abuse and neglect. And it said at least 51 deaths were reported at Kamloops alone between 1915 and 1963.
“This reflects the problem of school housing and the genocide wounds on Indigenous peoples,” said Terry T.G., head of the British Columbia Regional Assembly. said on Friday
British Columbia Prime Minister John Horgan said he was “shocked and heartbroken” to learn of the discovery. call it the tragedy of The “unimaginable proportion” highlighted the violence and consequences of the residential school system.
Kamloops opened between 1890 and 1969 when the federal government took over from the Catholic Church and operated as a day school until it closed in 1978.
Casimir said the deceased was believed to be undocumented. Although archivists at local museums are working with the Royal British Columbia Museum to see if death records can be found
“With the size of the school Up to 500 students are registered and attending at a time. We understand that this confirmed loss is affecting First Nations communities across British Columbia and beyond,” Casimir said in an initial release late Thursday.
The leadership of the Tk’emlps community “accepted responsibility for caring for these lost children,” Casimir said.
Access to the latest technology allows for the true identification of missing children and will hopefully bring peace and closure to the lives of those who have been lost, she said in a release.
Casimir said the band staff were notifying members of the community and surrounding communities that there were children attending the school.
The First Nations Health Authority called the discovery of the children’s remains “extremely painful” and said in a post on its website. “It will have a significant impact on the Tk’emlúps community and on the communities served by this residential school.”
The authors’ CEO Richard Jock said the findings “It demonstrates the destructive and lasting impact 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, said her first-year law students at Kamloops University spent at least a day at the former residential school talking to survivors about the conditions they had to endure.
She said she did not hear any survivors mention the unmarked burial ground. “But they were all talking about the kid who didn’t get there.”