Canada: Calls to find more boarding school mass graves are growing | Children’s Rights News


Montreal, Canada- As a native of Canada Keep fighting With the discovery of the remains of more than 200 children at the site of a former boarding school, the calls for justice and accountability have increased.

In the past week, a key request from Aboriginal leaders was that the Canadian government should provide sufficient funds and help community leaders search for unmarked graves believed to contain more children.

The Federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which investigates the boarding school system that has been in operation for more than 100 years, called for such action in 2015—but Ottawa has not yet implemented the recommendation.

“With the discovery of 215 children in Kamloops, there is no reason not to take active action to search for all missing children in any of these locations across Canada.” Er said in Canada, in an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on May 31.

Over the years, boarding school survivors, their descendants, and indigenous leaders have been asking for an investigation of unmarked graves related to Canadian boarding schools. There are more than 130 boarding schools across Canada.

Many people accuse the government of acting too slowly — and too little — to help alleviate the suffering of thousands of families of indigenous children who died in schools. “There is a lot of work to be done. Documents need to be researched and preserved. School cemeteries need to be protected and maintained. The dead must be respected and the voices of survivors must be listened to,” Hill said.

‘Ownership and responsibility’

The remains of 215 indigenous children, including some children as young as 3 years old, Established On May 27th, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nations Chief Rosanne Casimir announced that it was based on the Kamloops Indian Boarding School in western British Columbia.

This school was once Canada’s largest boarding school, enrolling nearly 500 students, and opened from 1890 to 1978. During most of this period, it was operated by the Roman Catholic Church, and the government took over in 1969 until it closed.

Casimir Say The 215 corpses are only preliminary findings, and work on the scene will continue. She also admitted that there are believed to be other unmarked graves in or near the former boarding school.

Her office said in a statement on May 31: “As a community with a heritage of Indian boarding schools authorized by the federal government, Canada must face the ownership and responsibilities of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and all communities and families. “

Kamloops Indian Boarding School operated from 1890 to 1978 [Nicholas Rausch/AFP]

The boarding school aims to force Aboriginal children into Canadian society, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded in 2015 that Ottawa committed “cultural genocide” through this system. These schools are rife with abuse, and it is believed that more than 4,000 indigenous children have died there, in most cases due to illness. The committee said: “Many people, if not the majority, are likely to be buried in unmarked and unattended graves.”

In 94 calls to action (CTA) issued six years ago, TRC called on Canada to work with churches, Aboriginal communities, and boarding school survivors to map school graveyards. It said: “A nationwide program in close consultation with the relevant indigenous communities is needed to complete the task of identifying many unmarked boarding school cemeteries and cemeteries in Canada.”

The Royal Canadian Department of Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs told Al Jazeera in an email this week that the country’s 2019 budget provides 33.8 million Canadian dollars (28 million U.S. dollars) over three years in support of school deaths. CTA. The department stated that in 16 virtual participation meetings, the government listened to the views of survivors and other indigenous stakeholders “on how to advance the implementation of this work”.

However, according to the analysis of the Yellowhead Research Center led by the Aboriginal people, Canada has so far only completed 8 of the 94 CTAs.Although the school has been closed, the indigenous people said that the policy supporting the system has been Not much changedAs aboriginals, the children of Metis and Inuit are still disproportionate to the number of separated families.

To commemorate the 215 indigenous children found in British Columbia, children’s shoes and toys were placed at the foot of the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa [Dave Chan/AFP]

Kathleen Mahoney, a professor of law at the University of Calgary, said: “Canada has not done what it should do.” “It should take immediate action. [after the TRC CTAs] Find these graves, determine the identity of the children and return the remains to their families, if this is what they want, and cooperate with the indigenous people,” Mahoney told Al Jazeera.

“They failed them when they were born, and they failed them when they died.”

More sites

Scott Hamilton, professor of the Department of Anthropology at Lake Ontario First University and author of the TRC report, said that the number of unmarked graveyards associated with Canadian boarding schools is a “tragic, unknown problem.”

“I think that until recently, almost every school in the country…we should have expected deaths there. The unknown question is of course where these children might be buried,” Hamilton told Al Jazeera.

He often said that, especially in older boarding schools, a cemetery would be built on the school grounds. In other cases, children are buried in cemeteries belonging to the church that runs the school. Children may also be buried in municipal cemeteries, or if children become ill and die in a hospital, they can be buried elsewhere.

People participate in a vigil in Victoria, British Columbia, to commemorate the 215 children found at the Kamloops boarding school [Melinda Trochu/AFP]

Hamilton added that today’s cemetery may also be in a different jurisdiction. “Some were redeveloped for different purposes, some were abandoned and forgotten. The question is how do we coordinate the discussions that need to be carried out to find the way forward?” he said.

Regardless of what happens next, former Canadian Senator and TRC Chairman Murray Sinclair said that it is clear that more unmarked graves will be found. He said in a video: “We know that many websites similar to Kamloops may be exposed in the future, and we need to start preparing for this.” statement June 1.

Sinclair said the committee had asked the federal government to allow it to expand its task of investigating school deaths and funding the work, but their request was rejected.Royal Canadian Minister of Relations with Indigenous Peoples Carolyn Bennett also stated comfirmed This week, a request for funding to find an unmarked cemetery was rejected in 2009.

“Since the truth of what I discovered in Kamloops became clear, I have received calls from survivors-dozens, if not hundreds, and now they call me-usually just to cry, just to tell We,’I have told you. I told you this has happened,'” Sinclair said.

Angela White, executive director of the Indian Boarding School Survivors Association, which supports survivors in British Columbia, told Al Jazeera that many survivors demand cultural safety and appropriate rehabilitation opportunities, as well as one-on-one support with indigenous consultants.

On May 31st, Kamloops residents and aboriginals participated in the monument in front of the former Kamloops Indian Boarding School [Dennis Owen/Reuters]

White said that when unmarked tombs were found in Kamloops, many aborigines initially felt “extremely angry because they knew it was a reality”, “but then this emotion disappeared in sadness, grief, and loss. “.

“Finding these remains shows that the truth about them (survivors) was not fabricated, not in their minds, and it was as effective as they thought it was,” she said. “Because these schools impose restrictions on these children and tell them regularly and constantly that their voices are irrelevant and no one will believe them.”

Other unmarked cemeteries related to boarding schools need to be found, but White said the question is how to accomplish these tasks. She added that other institutions with missing indigenous children managed by provincial, federal, and church authorities also need to investigate, such as Indian day schools and Indian hospitals.

“There is still a lot to be discovered here.”


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