Last week, the remains of over 215 children were found at a former residential school in Canada’s British Columbia. This has prompted Indigenous groups to call for a nationwide search for such mass graves.
Residential schools that operated from around the 1880s onwards were set up by Canada’s government and were run by churches with the goal of assimilation of Indigenous children, in order to eliminate the cultural differences that the missionaries and European settlers saw between themselves and the Indigenous Peoples, who comprise about five percent of Canada’s population currently.
On May 27, the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation community said that with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, they were able to locate the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential school in Canada’s British Columbia. The finding has sparked outrage, prompting demands that a nationwide search be made for such mass graves.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has concluded that such Residential Schools were “a systematic, government- sponsored attempt to destroy Aboriginal cultures and languages and to assimilate Aboriginal peoples so that they no longer existed as distinct peoples.”
TRC has also likened the motivations of opening and operating these schools to “cultural genocide”.