2021-06-27 22:25:39 751 Indigenous Children Graves Found At Canada School
751 Indigenous Children Graves Found At Canada School
Officials in Canada said Thursday that at least 751 unmarked graves were discovered at a former boarding school for Indigenous children.
The atrocity occurred at the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, a Catholic school that opened in 1899 and closed in 1997.
“This was a crime against humanity, an assault on First Nations people… The only crime we ever committed as children was being born Indigenous,” Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said at a press conference.
A mass grave containing the bodies of 215 Indigenous children was discovered at another such school, the now-defunct Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, less than a month before Thursday’s announcement.
Both institutions were part of a dark period in Canadian history in which Indigenous children were taken from their families and sent to government and church-run schools in order to deprive them of their culture and force them to assimilate. The schools were rife with physical and sexual abuse, and thousands of children died, but the exact numbers and causes of death will almost certainly never be known.
Cameron stated that many more of these former schools will be investigated, and that many more graves are expected to be discovered. “We will find more bodies,” he said, “and we will not stop until we find all of our children.”
“Canada has unearthed the findings of genocide,” Cameron said. “Here, we had concentration camps… They were referred to as Indian residential schools. Canada will be remembered as a nation that attempted to exterminate the First Nations, and we now have proof.”
The graves were once marked, according to Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme, but the Roman Catholic Church, which ran the school, is thought to have removed the headstones in the 1960s. Delorme demanded that the Pope apologize for the church’s role in the operation of the residential schools.
“The pope needs to apologize for what has happened,” Delorme stated. “An apology is one stage of many in the healing journey.”
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Pope Francis to apologize for the church’s role in the deaths of Indigenous children. “As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed by the position that the Catholic Church has taken now and over the past many years,” Trudeau said.
Days after Trudeau’s remarks, the Pope expressed sorrow over the discovery of the mass grave in but did not apologize. In public remarks, Francis said, “I join with the Canadian bishops and the entire Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people traumatized by the shocking news,”
Trudeau said on Thursday that he was “terribly saddened” that the bodies of more Indigenous children had been discovered.
“No child should have ever been separated from their families and communities, nor should they have been deprived of their language, culture, or identity. “No child’s precious youth should have been spent subjected to terrible loneliness and abuse,” Trudeau said. “No child’s last moments should have been spent in a place where they lived in fear, never to see their loved ones again.” And no family should have been deprived of the laughter and joy of watching their children play, as well as the pride of seeing them grow in their community.”
If you require assistance, call the Indian Residential School Survivors Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.