A Canadian indigenous group on Wednesday announced the “horrific and shocking discovery” of hundreds of unmarked graves on the site of a former residential school, just weeks after the discovery of other child remains shocked the country.
The Federation of Indigenous Peoples said in a statement that the number of newly unmarked graves was “the most significant in Canada to date.” The statement does not specify numbers.
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The group said in a press conference on Thursday morning that it had “discovered the horrific and shocking discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of India’s former Marieval School” in Saskatchewan.
The discovery a few weeks ago of the wreckage of 215 Indigenous children at the site of another Indigenous housing school in Kamloops, British Columbia, forced Canadians to tackle the legacy of an abusive and assimilated system.
Between 1831 and 1996, Canada’s school housing system forcibly separated some 150,000 Indigenous children from their families. They were malnourished and physically and sexually abused in what the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee described as a “cultural genocide” in 2015.
Survivors who spoke to Reuters recalled the constant hunger and basic loneliness, and schools are under threat and frequent use of force.
The Canadian federal government apologized for the system in 2008. The Roman Catholic Church, which ran most of the schools, did not apologize. Earlier this month, Pope Francis said he was in pain, a statement rejected by survivors.