We, at the Centre for Environmental and Minority Policy Studies, are standing in solidarity with Indigenous People in Canada in the wake of the discovery of children’s bodies at the sites of former Residential Schools. We are mourning with Canadian First Nations’ families.
From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools in Canada. These schools, aiming at assimilating Indigenous youth, were funded by the Canadian government and run by religious authorities.
Many children never returned home.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) published its final report estimating that 4,100 students died in Canada’s residential schools. The recent discovery of unmarked graves in different parts of Canada exhibits the brutal processes through which Native children’s lives and the lands of Indigenous people were deliberately stolen.
On 27 May 2021, the graves of at least 215 children were uncovered at a former Kamloops Indian residential school on Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation, in the city of Kamloops, British Columbia. On June 24, the Cowessess First Nation announced that at least 751 unmarked graves were found at Marieval Indian residential school in the Qu'Appelle Valley, southeastern Saskatchewan. On June 30,the Lower Kootenay Band of the Ktunaxa Nation said that 182 unmarked graves were located at the site of St Eugene’s mission school in Cranbrook, British Columbia.