Madonnina

Discovery of mass grave of Indigenous children prompts grief and questions in Canada

Kamloops Indian Residential School

Title: Discovery of mass grave of Indigenous children prompts grief and questions in Canada
Author: Antonia Noori Farzan
Publisher: The Washington Post
Date: 30MAY2021
The discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school in British Columbia prompted an outpouring of grief as efforts to identify the students began.
Vigils and prayer ceremonies honoring the Kamloops Indian Residential School students took place across British Columbia on Friday, and an impromptu memorial sprung up in Vancouver as mourners laid out a pair of empty children’s shoes for each of the dead. Meanwhile, Canada’s House of Commons fast-tracked a bill that would create a new national holiday commemorating children who died while in residential schools.
The discovery has also prompted renewed scrutiny of the Roman Catholic Church, which operated the Kamloops school from 1890 to 1969.

Nearly 150,000 Indigenous children in Canada were removed from their families between 1883 and 1996 and sent to residential schools where they often faced neglect and abuse. The schools strictly banned Indigenous languages and traditions, and Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined in 2015 that their use constituted “cultural genocide.”

It’s unclear what led to the deaths of the 215 children, some as young as 3, whose bodies were found at the former Kamloops residential school. Accidents, fires and contagious illness at residential schools all contributed to a high death toll, which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has estimated at more than 4,000 children.

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