'Unstoppable': 182 unmarked graves found at third Canadian school

WION Web Team
Ottawa, Canada Published: Jul 01, 2021, 07:04 AM(IST)

The area of the Marieval Indian Residential School and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Photograph:( Agencies )

Story highlights

The grim development follows the discovery of remains of 215 children in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia in May and 751 more unmarked graves at another school in Marieval in Saskatchewan last week

On the heels of two similar finds amounting to hundreds of burials, another 182 unmarked graves have been discovered at a third indigenous residential school in Canada.

Experts used ground-penetrating radar mapping to locate what are believed to be the remains of pupils aged seven to 15 at the former St Eugene's Mission School near Cranbrook, British Columbia, the Lower Kootenay Band said in a statement.

The grim development follows the discovery of remains of 215 children in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia in May and 751 more unmarked graves at another school in Marieval in Saskatchewan last week.

The Lower Kootenay Band said in a news release it began using the technology last year to search a site near the city of Cranbrook that is close to the former St Eugene's Mission School, which was operated by the Roman Catholic Church from 1912 until the early 1970s. It said the search found the remains in unmarked graves, some about 3 feet (a metre) deep.

They are believed to be the remains of members of bands of the Ktunaxa nation, which includes the Lower Kootenay, and other neighboring indigenous communities.

The Lower Kootenay band says it is in the early stages of receiving information from the reports on what has been found, and it is asking for the public to respect its privacy. Some of the graves were as shallow as three to four feet deep, it said.

Also see| 'Spooky': Discoveries of mass graves worldwide stir ghosts of hidden histories

Until the 1990s, some 150,000 Indian, Inuit and Metis youngsters were forcibly enrolled in 139 of these residential schools, where students were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers who stripped them of their culture and language.

Nearly three-quarters of the 130 residential schools were run by Roman Catholic missionary congregations, with others operated by the Presbyterian, Anglican and the United Church of Canada, which today is the largest Protestant denomination in the country.

The government formally apologised for the policy and abuses in 2008. In addition, the Presbyterian, Anglican and United churches have apologised for their roles in the abuse.

A papal apology was one of 94 recommendations from Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but the Canadian bishops conference said in 2018 that the pope could not personally apologise for the residential schools.

More than 4,000 died of disease and neglect in the schools, according to a commission of inquiry that concluded Canada had committed "cultural genocide."

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said Pope Francis has agreed to meet in December with Indigenous survivors of Canada's notorious residential schools to apologise for the Catholic Church's role in the abuse and deaths.

Francis had invited the delegations to the Vatican and would meet separately with three groups: First Nations, Metis, and Inuit, during their December 17-20 visit. The pope will then preside over a final audience with all three groups on December 20, the conference said in a statement Tuesday.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised for the "harmful government policy" of indigenous assimilation.

(With inputs from agencies)

Read in App