Officials said on Thursday that at least 751 unmarked graves were found in a boarding school for aboriginal children in Canada.
The cruel discovery occurred at Marieval Indian Boarding School in Saskatchewan, a Catholic school that opened in 1899 and closed in 1997.
“This is a crime against humanity and an attack on the indigenous people… The only crime we committed when we were young was born on the indigenous people,” said Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations. Said at the press conference.
Less than a month before the announcement on Thursday, the bodies of 215 indigenous children were found in a mass grave Another school like this, The now-defunct Kamloops Indian Boarding School in British Columbia.
Both institutions are part of a dark chapter in Canadian history, in which indigenous children Separated from family They were sent to schools run by the government and churches to deprive them of their culture and force them to assimilate. Schools are full of physical and sexual abuse, Thousands of children died, But the exact death toll and cause may never be fully known.
Cameron said that more of these previous schools will be investigated and they expect to find more graves. “We will find more bodies, and we will not stop until we find all our children,” he said.
“Canada has discovered the results of the genocide investigation,” Cameron said. “We have concentration camps here…they are called Indian boarding schools. Canada will be called a country trying to wipe out the Aboriginal people, and now we have evidence.”
Chief Cadmus Delorme of Cowessess First Nation said the tombs were once marked, but it is believed that the Roman Catholic Church, which administers the school, removed the tombstones in the 1960s. Delorm called on the Pope to apologize for the church’s role in the management of boarding schools.
“The Pope needs to apologize for what happened,” Delorme said. “Apologizing is one of many stages in the treatment process.”
Earlier this month, the British Prime Minister Justin Trudeau It also called on Pope Francis to apologize for the church’s responsibility for the death of indigenous children. Trudeau said: “As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed by the position the Catholic Church has taken now and over the years.”
A few days after Trudeau made a comment, Pope expresses sadness After discovering the mass graves, there was no apology. Francis said in his public speech: “I join the bishop of Canada and the entire Catholic Church in Canada to express my closeness to the Canadian people who have been traumatized by the shocking news.”
On Thursday, Trudeau said he “Very sad“Find more bodies of indigenous children.
“No child should be taken away from the family and community, deprived of their language, culture and identity. No child should spend their precious youth in terrible loneliness and abuse,” Trudeau said. “No child should spend the last moments of life in fear and never see their loved ones again. No family should be deprived of the laughter and joy of children’s play, and the pride of watching them grow in the community. “
If you need support, you can call the 24-hour Indian boarding school survivor crisis hotline at 1-866-925-4419.