OTTAWA — An announcement last month that the remains of 215 indigenous children had been found on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. which brought the whole country into chaos.
Flags across Canada are planted at half-mast and impromptu memorials. This includes leather shoes or children’s shoes. It often has a “215” sign growing out of it, including a flag in front of the Canadian Capitol building in Ottawa.
“Many survivors, my relatives, they’ve been saying this for years. A lot of people died There are a lot of unmarked graves,” said National Assembly head Perry Belgard. The country̵7;s largest indigenous organization This means children who are separated from their families and forced to attend prestigious Canadian residential schools such as Kamloops to assimilate Western culture.
“But no one believed the survivors,” he added. “And now the discovery of the tomb at Kamloops is gruesome. tragic and painful.”
An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children walked through the school during its opening, circa 1883, and its closure in 1996. Since taking office in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has prioritized a list of 94 actions to Reminiscing students and improving lives of the natives. But indigenous leaders believe the government has a long way to go.
The discovery of the tomb has sparked new impetus to the nation’s debate about how to atone for the history of indigenous exploitation. Many have asked how many children could be buried in that burial site.
What was discovered?
About 20 years ago, an effort to find the remains began at Kamloops School. It was in operation from 1890 until the late 1970s and was once the largest school in Canada. With 500 students at its peak, members of the Tk’emlaps te Secwepemc First Nation made a gruesome discovery last month after deploying ground-penetrating radar.
Among the 215 bodies found by radar There seems to be a child who died at the age of three, Chief Roseanne. Kazimir of Tk’emlaps te Secwepemc said all the children were buried decades ago, she said.
Chief Casimir also said she expected more remains to be discovered when more ground scans were made this month. The community is currently working with the Canadian Mounted Police and the coroner’s services in British Columbia.
On Friday, Chief Casimir said the bodies found so far appeared to be buried in “An unmarked burial site which, to our knowledge, remains undocumented.”
What is a residential school system?
In the late 19th century, Canada allocated land for its indigenous peoples through often questionable treaties. while seizing indigenous lands in some places, especially British Columbia.
Around 1883, the government added a new dimension to indigenous exploitation. Indigenous children in many parts of Canada are forced to attend residential schools. which are often far from their communities. Most are run by the church and all prohibit the use of indigenous languages and indigenous cultural practices, which are often violent. Sickness and sexual, physical, and emotional abuse are widespread.
Kamloops School was run by the Roman Catholic Church until 1969 when the central government took over the school system. A report by an examiner and a doctor indicated that students at Kamloops sometimes had severe malnutrition.
The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission established by the Government of Canada took six years of trial from 6,750 witnesses to document the school’s history. “genocide”
Some former students testified before the committee that a monk at the school had given birth to a baby to an indigenous student. that babies were taken from young mothers and killed, and in some cases their bodies were thrown into the furnace.
Many students died of disease, accidents, fires and during their escape attempts. According to the committee’s report
various schools have to suffer a large number of deaths when contagious diseases are present From this year’s report on the burial site of Scott Hamilton, professor of anthropology at Lakehead University. in Thunder Bay, Ontario
How many children died in a residential school?
When children die in a residential school Their families were often given vague explanations or saying that they simply ran away and disappeared. The committee found that When schools became aware of the children’s deaths, they often refused until 1960 to return their bodies to their families. The remainder is returned only if it is cheaper to bury it at the school.
in the committee’s report The committee estimates that at least 4,100 students have died or disappeared from residential schools. and urged the government to account for all of those children. However, it did not say exactly how many were missing.
Murray Sinclair, a former judge and senator who heads the commission, said in an email last week that he now believes the figure “exceeds 10,000”.
since the end of the committee A federal program is underway to document the plight of children who never return to their families after being sent to residential schools. and who are commonly known as “lost children”
The remains in unmarked graves have been unmarked or discovered by construction or natural events at other old school sites, although nothing on the Kamloops scale.
Dr. Kisha Supernant, an Indigenous woman who directs the Prairie Research Institute and Indigenous Archaeology at the University of Alberta. Lead a team that uses ground-penetrating radar and other technologies to hunt down remains.
Professor Hamilton said finding burial sites was often difficult due to poor record keeping. lost record and moving some schools
“These cemeteries are often unmarked,” he said. “What they were 50 or 60 years ago, no one would have guessed. The challenge here is that they are not maintained. when the school is closed Property is often abandoned.”
What will happen next?
during a special debate in the House of Commons last Tuesday evening. Mr Trudeau said Canada failed among 215 children who discovered the remains. Like other children who never returned to the community from the residential school
“Today, some of the children found in Kamloops and that are not found anywhere else across the country. be grandparents or great-grandparents,” he said. And that’s Canada’s fault.”
Trudeau said the government was keen to demand money from indigenous leaders and other aid. in the use of radar and various technologies To search for the remains of students in other schools In 2019, a budget of 27 million Canadian dollars to find the graves. but the money is not distributed
Chief Bellegarde said he hoped the shock following the discovery in Kamloops would prompt Canada to speed up efforts to reconcile and eliminate discrimination and wide economic gaps between indigenous peoples and other nations.
“We have to use this as a catalyst,” he said. “We have helped build this great country and no one is going anywhere. we have to work together So let’s get started.”