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Remains of approximately 751 Indigenous people have been found at another Catholic school in Canada.
The news comes shortly after the bodies of 215 Indigenous children were found in another former Catholic school in the country.
Now, the former Marieval (Cowessess) Residential School in Saskatchewan was found to be home to a large number of unmarked graves.
Speaking about what had been uncovered, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said at a press conference:
This is not a mass gravesite — these are unmarked graves.
We are treating this like a crime scene at the moment.
We can not confirm they are all children, but there are oral stories that there are adults in this gravesite as well because it was the Roman Catholic Church that oversaw this gravesite.
The community will now go about naming and preserving the burial sites.
As part of an effort to assimilate 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children the Canadian government forced children to attend these Catholic schools from the early 1900s and up to the 1970s. Sexual and physical abuses were reportedly present in these schools and it was believed that more than 4,000 students died. However, after recent findings, experts now believe that the figure is more likely to be close to 15,000.
Bobby Cameron, the chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, told Vice News ‘this was a crime against humanity,’ and went on to add that ‘the only crime we committed as children was being born Indigenous… We had concentration camps here. We had them here in Saskatchewan. They were called Indian residential schools.’
Cameron concluded, ‘We are seeing the results of the genocide that Canada committed here, genocide committed on our treaty land. We will find more bodies… We won’t stop until we locate all of them.’
In the wake of this news, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement, in which he said:
The findings in Marieval and Kamloops are part of a larger tragedy. They are a shameful reminder of the systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice that Indigenous peoples have faced – and continue to face – in this country. And together, we must acknowledge this truth, learn from our past, and walk the shared path of reconciliation, so we can build a better future.
More searches for the bodies of Indigenous people in Catholic schools are now expected to occur.
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