Canada: 182 anonymous graves discovered in another boarding school | Human rights news

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Disclaimer: The story below contains details of residential schools which can be upsetting. The Crisis Line for Families and Residential School Survivors Canada is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

An indigenous community in western Canada has found 182 anonymous graves near a former residential school for indigenous children, the latest such find in recent weeks.

The Lower Kootenay Band said on Wednesday that experts had used ground penetrating radar mapping to locate what is believed to be the remains of Indigenous children aged seven to 15 at St Eugene’s Mission School near Cranbrook, British Columbia.

The institution, which Indigenous children were forced to attend in a state effort to assimilate them into Canadian society, was run by the Catholic Church and operated from 1890 to 1970, according to at the Center for History and Dialogue on Indian Residential Schools.

The site search began last year, the band said in a statement, and the children are believed to be members of bands from the Ktunaxa Nation, which includes the Lower Kootenay and other neighboring Indigenous communities.

“You can never fully prepare for something like this,” said Chief Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band, reported by CBC News.

Hundreds of anonymous graves have been unearthed at at least three other residential schools in Canada in recent weeks, plunging Indigenous communities who have known for decades of deaths in institutions into a sense of renewed grief and anguish.

Canada’s residential school system operated from the late 1800s until the 1990s. It was part of a larger colonial project that sought to take over Indigenous lands and forcibly assimilate First Nations children, Métis and Inuit. Various churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, have operated at least 139 residential schools across Canada, and thousands of Indigenous children are believed to have died while attending institutions.

At the end of last month, 215 remains of indigenous children were found at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, while up to 751 unmarked graves have been discovered at Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan last week.

Chief Jennifer Bone of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in central Manitoba also mentionned This month the community believes 104 potential graves exist in three cemeteries on the site of the Brandon Residential School.

The findings have led to growing calls for accountability from the federal government and the Catholic Church.

Indigenous leaders are demand an apology from Pope Francis and for the church to publish all of its institutional records. They are also calling for adequate financial support to help fund research on residential school grounds, that criminal charges be brought against anyone found responsible for the crimes committed, and for a thorough investigation be launched.

Canadian MP Charlie Angus of the opposition New Democratic Party said Wednesday that “the time has come for a coherent and independent investigation to gather the evidence of these crimes.”

Meanwhile, the anguish of the latest discovery is felt by Indigenous peoples across Canada.

“My family has been there,” Earl Einarson, a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation, posted on Twitter about the residential school near Cranbrook. “The shadow of this place still haunts our family. And now in that same shadow are 182 that never escaped its dark shadow.

According to the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Center, “an Indian agent reported in 1935 that due to bad food, overwork and illness, he had to force parents to send their children” to school. of the St Eugene mission.

“Despite a change of principal, school attendance and running away were persistent problems. There were also recurrent epidemics of influenza, mumps, measles, chickenpox and tuberculosis, ”the center said. mentionned.

Many members of the indigenous community have also requested that Canada Day celebrations – a national holiday on July 1 – be canceled in light of the findings of anonymous graves.

“As more and more of our children who have not returned from residential schools are being discovered, I don’t think the time is right to celebrate Canada,” said Walter Naveau, Acting Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation ( NAN), which represents dozens of First Nations in northern Ontario.

“I hear people say that Canada is the greatest nation, but many choose not to recognize this country’s true history with Indigenous peoples and the legacy that continues to this day,” Naveau said in a statement. press release Wednesday.

“Canada came out of the dark days of residential schools, but not our people. Many are still in mourning, and many cannot cry until they know what happened to their loved ones – the children who were taken away and never returned home. “





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