Respect

More than 750 unmarked graves found at site of Indigenous school in Canada

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Story at a glance

  • The graves were discovered at the Marieval Indian Residential School near Saskatchewan.
  • The residential school operated in the area from 1899 to 1997.
  • Thousands of children across the country in the 19th century, most of whom were Indigenous, were separated from their families and forced to attend the residential schools that were operated by the Catholic Church.

More than 750 unmarked graves have been discovered at the site of a former residential school for Indigenous children in Canada, according to The Associated Press (AP)

Leaders of the Cowessess First Nation on Thursday said a search using ground-penetrating radar resulted in 751 hits, suggesting at least 600 bodies were buried at the Marieval Indian Residential School, about 85 miles east of Regina, Saskatchewan. The radar could have a margin of error of 10 percent, according to AP


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The residential school operated in the area from 1899 to 1997. The Cowessess First Nation took over the site when the Catholic Church stopped overseeing the school in 1970.

First Nations children from the 19th century through the 1970s were forced to attend Christian schools to convert to Christianity and assimilate them into Canadian society. 

Thousands of children across the country, most of whom were Indigenous, were separated from their families and forced to attend the residential schools that were operated by the Catholic Church. 

Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess said the graves at the Marieval Indian Residential School were marked at one time, but the Catholic Church that operated the school removed the markers. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement said his “heart breaks” for the Cowessess First Nation and all Indigenous communities across the country. 


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“No child should have ever been taken away from their families and communities, and robbed of their language, culture, and identity. No child should have spent their precious youth subjected to terrible loneliness and abuse,” he said. 

The news follows reports last month that 215 bodies of Indigenous children were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. 

First Nations and the Canadian government called on Pope Francis to issue a formal apology, which has yet to be given. 


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