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  • Canada In Shock After Remains Of 215 Indigenous Children Discovered

    They were found at a residential school.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Canada In Shock After Remains Of 215 Indigenous Children Discovered
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/eranicle
  • We don’t often hear Canada embroiled in controversial stories. So it seemed unreal when news broke out that 215 bodies of indigenous children were found, some as young as 3 years old, at a former residential school in British Columbia.

    The children were students of Kamloops Indian Residential School, said to be the largest residential school in Canada which, at its peak, housed as many as 500 indigenous children. It closed in 1978.

    What is a residential school?

    According to a New York Times (NYT) article, Canada was home to a system of residential schools in the19th century that mainly were run by churches. The aim of the schools was to culturally assimilate indigenous people into Canadian society.

    But, in 2015, Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Commission (NTCR) found the system carried out what can be considered as “cultural genocide.” It detailed decades of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse among indigenous kids.

    According to the same NYT article, indigenous children in Canada were taken from their families and forced to attend these residential schools.

    “A large number never returned home, their families given only vague explanations, or none at all,” the article read.

    The schools were run between 1860 to 1990s, with the last school closing in 1996. The report from the commission documented that many of the approximately 150,000 students “enrolled” in the school system experienced horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition, and other atrocities.

    The remains of the 215 children that were recently found were undocumented.  The NCTR educates Canadians on the profound injustices inflicted on First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation. Its goal is to honor survivors and to foster reconciliation and healing on the foundation of truth-telling.

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    The NCTR, according to New York Times report, was set up “as part of a government apology and settlement over the schools.” It concluded, “at least 4,100 students died while attending the schools, many from mistreatment or neglect, others from disease or accident.”

    Trudeau apologizes

    In a May 28, 2021  Tweet, Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau recognized that the discovery in Kamloops Residential School was a reminder of the shameful chapter of the nation’s history.

    “The news that remains were found at the former Kamloops residential school breaks my heart — it is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history. I am thinking about everyone affected by this distressing news. We are here for you,” he said.

    Indigenous students who have attended these residential schools have expressed pain over the news, saying the discovery only proves the horrors that took place then.

    “I lost my heart, it was so much hurt and pain to finally hear, for the outside world, to finally hear what we assumed was happening there,” says Harvey McLeod, who attended the school for two years in the late 1960s, in a telephone interview with CNN.

    “The abuse that happened to me was physical, yes, was sexual, yes, and in 1966 I was a person that didn’t want to live anymore, it changed me,” he added.

    The CNN report quoted Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community as saying, “We recognize the tragic, heartbreaking devastation that the Canadian residential school system has inflicted upon so many, and our thoughts are with all of those who are in mourning today.”

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    The investigation continues on the discovery of the children’s remains in Kamloops.

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