Children's remains found at Canadian school

James Marshall
May 29, 2021

"For the generations that followed, in terms of those families whose children were taken ... it is the inter-generational trauma of knowing this happened. Innocent Indigenous children that never made it home to their families and communities".

It comes after the Tk'emlups te Secwépemc First Nation announced that ground-penetrating radar confirmed that the remains of 215 students from the Kamloops Indian Residential School are buried on its grounds.

The Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation is now working with the Royal British Columbia Museum to see if any records of the deaths can be found.

"It was shared with me that it was children from our community … it was devastating and quite mind boggling", Casimir said on Friday. "And it's something that we've always had to fight to prove. To me, it's always been a frightful, awful history". The system went into decline during the 1970s, with the last school closing in 1996. "Everyone who's had children that attended this school", Casimir described.

Its preliminary findings are expected to be released in a report next month, she said.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission said large numbers of Indigenous children either ran away from residential schools or died at the schools, their whereabouts unknown.

"This is the beginning but, given the nature of this news, we felt it important to share immediately", Casimir added. "The passage of time does not erase the suffering".

"These were children - all belonging to a family, and community, and a Nation - who were forcibly stolen from their homes under the authority of the Canadian government, and never returned", Phillip said.

In 2018, Pope Francis rejected a direct appeal for an apology from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Kamloops Indian Residential School operated from 1890 to 1969, with peak enrolment of 500 in the 1950s.

"There had to be more to the story", she said. "Decades. We want to approach what we're doing with the next steps in the most respectful and honourable way possible, to work together and have those further discussions", she said. He asked the federal government to work with Indigenous groups on researching the fates of missing children.

"Yesterday's discovery reflects a dark and painful chapter in our country's history".

She adds she is grateful for support offered by other First Nations.

John Horgan, the premier of British Columbia, said that he was "horrified and heartbroken" and that he supported the efforts of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc to bring to "light the full extent of this loss". That process is still ongoing with many community members still grappling with the effects of the residential school system.

Bennett tells us she is amazed at how resilient some people can be, "to be able to say this is an opportunity to heal and come together". "It is definitely an honor to be taking care of these children".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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