At least 751 unmarked graves have been found at a former boarding school for Aboriginal children in Canada, officials said Thursday.
The brutal discovery occurred on the site of Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, a Catholic school that opened in 1899 and closed in 1997.
Sovereign First Nations Federation President Bobby Cameron said at a press conference: “This was a crime against humanity, an assault on First Nations peoples…and the only crime we committed as children was to give birth to an Aboriginal.”
Less than a month before Thursday’s announcement, a mass grave was found containing the bodies of 215 Aboriginal children. Another school like this, the now-expired Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
Both institutions were part of a dark chapter in Canadian history, in which Aboriginal children were Remove from their families And sending them to government and church-run schools to strip them of their culture and force them to assimilate. Schools were full of physical and sexual abuse, and Thousands of children diedHowever, it is possible that the exact numbers of death and its causes are not fully known.
Cameron said more of these former schools will be investigated, and they expect more graves to be found. “We will find more bodies and we will not stop until we find all our children,” he said.
“Canada has exposed the consequences of the genocide,” Cameron said. “We had concentration camps here…they were called Indian boarding schools. You would know Canada as a nation that tried to exterminate First Nations, now we have evidence.”
The head of the First Nation in Kwesses, Cadmus Delorme, said graves were once identified, but the Roman Catholic Church, which runs the school, is believed to have removed the tombstones in the 1960s. Delorme called on the Pope to apologize for the church’s role in managing boarding schools.
“The Pope needs to apologize for what happened,” Delorme said. An apology is one of many stages in the healing journey.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Pope Francis also called for an apology for the Church’s responsibility for the deaths of indigenous children. “As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed with the position the Catholic Church has taken now and over the past several years,” Trudeau said.
Days after Trudeau’s comments, The Pope expressed his grief On the discovery of a mass grave in but did not make an apology. “I join the Canadian bishops and the entire Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people who are shocked by the shocking news,” Francis said in public statements.
On Thursday, Trudeau said that “terrible sad“The bodies of more Aboriginal children have been found.
“No child should be ripped from their families and communities, robbed of their language, culture and identity. No child should spend their precious youth being horribly lonely and abused,” Trudeau said. Fear, and never to see his loved ones again. No families should be denied the laughter and joy of their children playing, and the pride of watching them grow up in their community.”
If you need support, you can reach the 24-hour Residential Indian School Survivor Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.