A small community in British Columbia, Canada is coming to terms with an unimaginable discovery – the bodies of 215 children, some as young as age 3, discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.
The community, where the school is located, expressed shock over the discovery, in a statement on Thursday, 27 May 2021.
“This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings came to light — the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School,” said the community’s Chief Rosanne Casimir.
The school was shut down in 1978 and was one of the largest residential schools in Canada. It operated from the late 19th century and was opened and run by the Catholic Church until the federal government took it over in the late 1960s.
A look at Canada’s dark history
The country’s residential school system forcibly separated Indigenous children from their families – a 2015 probe would make damning findings, detailing revealing a shocking web of sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children, at these schools.
The report, by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission also detailed allegations of the approximately 150 000 children being malnourished at the schools, which were usually run by Christian churches on behalf of the Ottawa government. The probe found that at least 4 100 children died while attending residential school.
The country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reacted to the grim finding and said it was a reminder of its dark past.
“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”
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau