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Scarring The First World!

Remains of 215 children have recently been found at an indigenous school site in Canada. The Kamloops Indian Residential School was part of the Canadian Indian residential school system, located in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. It was once the largest residential school in Canada, with its enrolment peaking at 500 in the 1950s. However, the indigenous school site was abandoned in 1978. Immediately after the media revealed the incident, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Pierre James Trudeau described it as “deeply heartbreaking“. According to the local media, the remains have been recovered with the help of ground-penetrating radar. According to the Canadian Press, some of the children, buried at the site, were as young as three.

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School

The Kamloops area is inhabited by a diverse group of Native Americans. A good number of the children, whose bodies were recovered, reportedly belonged to the Tk’emlups te Secw’pemc community. The current Chief of this community, Rosanne Casimir, said: “We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. At this time, we have more questions than answers.” She claimed that Canada’s Residential School System had committed a Cultural Genocide by forcibly separating indigenous children from their families. She called the discovery an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented at the Kamloops Indian Residential School”. Casimir thanked the media for documenting horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition and other atrocities suffered by many of the 150,000 children who had attended the schools, run by Christian Churches on behalf of Ottawa from the 1840s to the 1990s.

The Europeans started arriving in Canada from the late 18th Century to the early 19th Century, and got involved in clashes with the local communities. History suggests that the Europeans converted the Native Americans to Christianity in order to make them civilised, apart from setting up various residential schools across Canada. At one period of time, there were 139 such residential schools in the country. More than 150,000 children were forcibly admitted in those schools. As per a 2015 investigation report, many of those children were subjected to widespread physical and sexual abuse. From 1840 to 1990, those children experienced horrific physical abuse, rape, and other abuses in schools run by the Christian Churches. At least 4,100 children died while attending residential schools. Hence, experts believe that more bodies could be found as there are more areas to search on the school grounds.

People place 215 pairs of children’s shoes on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery as a memorial to the children whose remains have been found buried at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops

Earlier in 2008, the Government of Canada had apologised in Parliament, admitting that physical and sexual abuses were rampant in schools. “This really resurfaces the issue of residential schools and the wounds from this legacy of genocide towards Indigenous people,” stressed Terry Teegee, Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief for British Columbia. For her part, Chief Coroner in British Columbia Lisa Lapointe said: “We are early in the process of gathering information and will continue to work collaboratively with the Tk’eml’ps te Secw’pemc and others as this sensitive work progresses.” She added: “We recognise the tragic, heartbreaking devastation that the Canadian residential school system has inflicted upon so many, and our thoughts are with all of those who are in mourning today.

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