The discovery of the bones of 215 children buried in a mass grave at a former Indian residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, shocked Canada at the end of May.
This time, more than 750 anonymous graves were discovered during excavations on the site of a former native boarding school, in the commune of Marieval, in the province of Saskatchewan (west-central Canada), announced, Thursday, June 24, the Chief of the Cowessess Nation.
The Marieval Residential School in eastern Saskatchewan hosted Aboriginal children between 1899 and the mid-1990s, before being demolished and replaced with a day school. Asked on the CBC channel, a former resident of the Marieval school, Barry Kennedy, estimated that this new discovery was only the tip of the iceberg.
Sask. First Nation gives update on unmarked graves found near former residential school | CBC News special coverage https://t.co/RE0jslX03f
“We started our ground penetrating radar excavations on June 2 and, as of yesterday, we spotted 751 unmarked graves”, announced Chief Cadmus Delorme at a press conference, after this new discovery, the second in less than a month, after the discovery of Kamloops.
“This is not a mass grave, they are unidentified graves”, he added, specifying that “Some have been identified in the past” but representatives of the Catholic Church removed the stelae, “A criminal act in Canada”, according to him.
150,000 Native American children in 139 of these residential schools
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said his “Penalty”, Thursday, in a statement, estimated that Canada should “Learn from [son] past and move forward on the common path of reconciliation ”.
For his part, the leader of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations of Saskatchewan, Bobby Cameron, denounced a “Crime against humanity, an aggression against the First Nations”. “The only crime we ever committed was being born indigenous”, he said at the same press briefing, calling on the government and the Church to cooperate. “We will find other bodies and we will not stop until we have found all the children”, he added.
Some 150,000 Native American, Métis and Inuit children were forcibly recruited until the 1990s in 139 of these residential schools across the country, where they were cut off from their families, language and culture. Many of them were subjected to ill-treatment or sexual abuse, and more than 4,000 died there, according to a commission of inquiry which had found a “Cultural genocide” from Canada.
In the wake of the discovery of the remains of children at Kamloops Residential School, excavations were undertaken around several of these former schools across Canada, with the assistance of government authorities.