Find at School Site a 'Horrifying Reminder' of Indigenous Abuse

Grant Boone
May 30, 2021

"We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify".

A small community in British Columbia, Canada is coming to terms with an unimaginable discovery - the bodies of 215 children, some as young as age 3, discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc.

Those visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday will see 215 pairs of children's shoes carefully laid across the gallery's steps-one pair for each of the 215 children whose remains were discovered last weekend, buried at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. "To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths", Casimir said in a statement.

Di tribe say dem don contact di home communities wey na dia pikin attend di school.

"It's a harsh reality and it's our truths". "And it's something that we've always had to fight to prove".

When and how the children died is still to be determined, but the rest of the preliminary findings from the grounds survey are expected to be released in mid-June.

The BC Coroners Service has been notified and more work will be carried out on the site.

Kamloops Indian Residential School was the largest in the residential system.

"Today we honour the lives of those children, and hold prayers that they, and their families, may finally be at peace".

Back in 1910, the principal said that the government did not provide enough money to properly feed the students, while in 1924, a portion of the school rebuilt after it was destroyed by a fire.

"I wanted to come here and just stand with people, especially people who have been through residential schools and bring forth my voice as an advocate and bring forth voices of Elders and be there for people".

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The school operated between 1890 and 1969. That process is still ongoing with many community members still grappling with the effects of the residential school system.

What happened at the schools amounted to "cultural genocide" according to the report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 1918, a government official who inspected the school reported his "suspicion that the vitality of the children is not sufficiently sustained from a lack of nutritious food".

The First Nations Health Authority called the discovery of the children's remains "extremely painful" and said in a website posting that it "will have a significant impact on the Tk'emlúps community and in the communities served by this residential school".

"It is said that once you know the truth, you can not un-know it".

The country's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reacted to the grim finding and said it was a reminder of its dark past.

Teegee said he spoke with Casimir about the discovery of the remains and offered support from Indigenous leaders and groups from across Canada.

Gunargie O'Sullivan, a residential school survivor who was at the memorial on Friday, said the news was triggering for many school survivors.

In a written statement, B.C. Premier John Horgan said he was "horrified and heartbroken" to learn of the unmarked burial site.

"This particular event may be seen as historical but it's also a continuous trend, I would say, of this power imbalance, if you would, that creates these issues for First Nations people".

Canada minister of indigenous relations, Carolyn Bennett, say residential schools na part of our "shameful" colonial policy.

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