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Indigenous Canadian community discovers the bodies of boarding school students

Ottawa-Aboriginal communities on the west coast of Canada have reopened the wounds of a century of abuse of the country’s indigenous people, saying they have found the bodies of more than 200 children who may have attended state-owned schools.

Tk’em lúps te Secwépemc First Nation, British Columbia, said the bodies of an estimated 215 children were found using ground penetrating radar. It worked. First Nations, based in the town of Kamloops, plans to complete its findings in mid-June.

“We are still working on that impact,” Rosanne Caismir, Secretary of Tk’em lúps te Secwépemc First Nation, said at a press conference on Friday. “This loss is absolutely unthinkable.”

Political leaders, led by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, expressed their condolences to the indigenous community. “It’s a painful recollection of a dark and shameful chapter in our history,” Trudeau said on Twitter. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been working to promote reconciliation with 1.7 million indigenous peoples, which has been a policy priority since his inauguration. Indigenous Canadians make up about 5% of the total population of 38 million, have poor indicators, and have higher suicide, imprisonment, and infant mortality rates than the general population.

For over a century, Canada’s boarding school system, as is known, has separated approximately 150,000 indigenous children from their families. According to a 2015 survey report, an estimated 4,100 children died of illness or accidents while using the system. Same as cultural genocide. According to the investigation, officials at the time destroyed hundreds of records, so the complete death toll may never be known.

Following the settlement of a class action proceeding with boarding school survivors, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Announced an apology He said the school policy was “wrong, causing great harm, and there is no place in our country.”

Kaismir said community elders have relayed stories of school abuse and missing children.

“It’s a harsh reality. This is our history,” said Secretary Caismir. “This is about revealing the truth and honoring those children.”

A 2015 study report, called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, found that indigenous children in boarding schools endured poor diet, physical harm and sexual abuse. Indigenous languages ​​and religions were banned to assimilate children.

The study, which gathered testimony from 6,750 witnesses, shared the experience of a student who brought a miniature totem pole received on his birthday to a boarding school in Kamloop. “When she proudly showed it to one of the nuns, it was picked up by her and abandoned. She was told that it was nothing but a devil,” quoted a former student’s testimony. , The survey said.

The Kamloops school operated for nearly 90 years under the control of the Roman Catholic Church until 1978, with enrollment peaking at 500 in the 1950s. Knowing this discovery, he vowed to support First Nations. He expressed sympathy “to all who mourn this tragic loss.”

Write to Paul Vieira paul.vieira@wsj.com

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Indigenous Canadian community discovers the bodies of boarding school students

Source link Indigenous Canadian community discovers the bodies of boarding school students

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