There are wounds from a shameful and racist past that never close, no matter how many years go by. This was recognized by the authorities of that country after the remains of 215 children were found in a mass grave of a former boarding school in Canada.
A find that causes chills and a lot of sadness
The remains of the children, some of whom were only three years old, were discovered with a georadar at the site where a boarding school was operated about a century ago. The Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia closed its doors in 1978 and is where the remains were found.
These boarding schools and schools were created in the 19th and 20th centuries to integrate indigenous communities. However, indigenous children were forced to enter the country by force. In this place, they were ill-treated and sexually abused.
The Kamloops School where the discovery took place was founded in 1890 and had 500 regular students by the 1950s. Most outrageous is that it was administered by the Catholic Church and funded by the Canadian government. In addition to this school, always with religious leadership, there were 138 other boarding schools of the same type.
The discovery of the remains at the former Canadian boarding school exposed further atrocities
Inuit, Indian and mestizo children were forcibly torn from their families. They have been robbed of their language, belief and culture. About 150,000 children and adolescents suffered this treatment. In these centers they were deprived of all rights on the pretext of preparing them for community life. These institutions functioned between 1863 and 1998.
According to documentation at the time, around 3,200 children died in this situation, most of them from tuberculosis. Canada’s Department of Indigenous Relations said the remains found had not been declared. Because of this, the cause of death is unknown and is still being investigated.
As early as 1910, the management of the Kamloops School complained to the Canadian government at the time about the poor nutrition of the children. There was not enough money to feed the students. The answer came a little late, in 2008 the government apologized to the survivors with 1.3 billion euros.
The event has been classified as a cultural genocide
Canada’s Minister for Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennet, has harshly criticized the existence of these internees in the past. He described his country’s colonial policy in the 19th and sometimes in the 20th century as shameful. The interned children could not speak their language, learn their culture and also abuse them. Most of them did not have the opportunity to return to their homeland with their families. For all these reasons, this fact is recognized as “cultural genocide”. That’s what the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Report called it.
The Lost Children Project has so far identified 4,100 children and minors. Authorities are working to investigate the cause of death of the 215 children recently found at the Canadian boarding school, and a report is expected in June 2021.