An unmarked mass grave with the remains of at least 215 indigenous children was just uncovered at a former Residential School in Kamloops, B.C.:
This week saw the discovery of something outside Kamloops, B.C., rarely seen in North America, much less in any corner of the developed world: Unmarked and previously forgotten graves, all belonging to children who died at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
In a Thursday statement, Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation said that a preliminary survey using ground penetrating radar had found evidence of 215 graves. Opened in 1893, Kamloops Indian Residential School had once been the largest residential school in Canada. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has officially confirmed 51 deaths at the school, but the radar survey points to a mass of previously unrecorded fatalities.
This is the horrifying reality of the quasi-genocidal Residential School system, which had death rates comparable to Nazi POW camps:
One of the most painful tasks of Canada’s seven-year Truth and Reconciliation Commission was an attempt to quantify the sheer number of Indigenous children who died at an Indian Residential School.
The commission ultimately determined that at least 3,200 children died while a student at a Residential School; one in every 50 students enrolled during the program’s nearly 120-year existence. That’s a death rate comparable to the number of Canadian POWs who died in the custody of Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
The result is that many of Canada’s most notorious residential schools sit amid sprawling cemeteries of unmarked children’s graves.
The Battleford Industrial School in Saskatchewan has 72 graves that lay forgotten until rediscovered by archaeology students in the 1970s. In 2001, heavy rains outside High River, Alta., exposed the coffins of 34 children who had died at nearby Dunbow Residential School. In 2019, archaeologists using ground-penetrating radar found the crudely dug graves of as many as 15 children surrounding the former site of Saskatchewan’s Muskowekwan Residential School.
It’s a tragedy and disgrace Canada really hasn’t come close to adequately reckoning with yet.