Canada’s dark past of violent treatment against Indigenous people is no secret. However, it seems as though the nation’s skeletons continue to come out of the closet.
In Kamloops, B.C., the remains of 215 children were found buried at a residential school.
The remains were confirmed last week by Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation.
With the help of a ground-penetrating radar specialist, they were able to confirm the bodies of these deceased children.
The discovery of these children paints a grim reality of the violence that was endured at these legal institutions.
According to Casimir, the discovery was an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented at Kamloops Indian Residential School.”
Through examination it was determined that some of the children were as young as three years of age.
Additionally, The Kamloops Indian Residential School was one of the largest residential schools in Canada.
Currently, the Royal British Columbia Museum and local museum archivists are working together to see if they can find any of the children’s records.
Officials are also reaching out to community members who’ve attended the school to see if they can retrieve more information.
The residential school operated from 1890 to 1969. The federal government took over operations of the school from the Catholic Church until the school’s closure in 1978.
Residential schools were established to assimilate the First Nations into Canadian/European culture.
The schools were sponsored by the government in partnership with religious leadership from the Catholic Church.
It has been well documented that the schools have caused trauma within the Indigenous communities, as reports of abuse and rape were prevalent.
The last Canadian residential school shut its doors in 1996, a mere 25 years ago.
The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was issued in 2007, after several former students demanded restitution and recognition of the damaging effects the abuse and torture had on their communities.
In 2008, former prime minister Stephen Harper apologized on behalf of the federal government.
Over 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis have gone through the residential school system, or at least those that were documented to have attended.