Ever wonder how does it feel to find bodies of children near where it was an educational institution. Yes, it sounds bizarre right? But since May these are headlines covering every social media platform, newspapers and in mind of every individual.
A matter of great concern has again hit Canada other than the heat wave. Past genocide acts has led to the discovery of unmarked gravesites near the residential school which ran during the period of 1894 to 1996.
Since May, more than 1,308 suspected graves have been uncovered near the sites of former Indian Residential Schools:
215 in Kamloops, B.C as part of preliminary investigation were found.
182 people had been found near the grounds of the former St Eugene’s Mission School
751 in unmarked graves were found after similar investigation near a former Mareiveal Indian residential school and the more than 160 found in mid-July on Penelakut Island B.C in Kuper Island industrial school.
What methods were used to discover these graves
While the method is not a perfect means to uncover burials or determine who is in them it has a lengthy pedigree of accurately mapping out forgotten historic cemeteries.
Preliminary investigations – often carried out using ground-penetrating radar technology – have uncovered unmarked graves in the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan since late May, prompting calls for accountability both from the Canadian government and the Roman Catholic Church that ran day-to-day operations at most of the institutions.
How these residential schools worked?
The system of residential school was started in 1886 by then Canadian Prime Minister John MacDonald for indigenous children. According to many reports the indigenous schools were set up for children from indigenous groups to practice and to cop up with the western culture and also to the demands of the society. These children were forced to take up education and forcefully separated from their families to train themselves in these staterun boarding schools.
As far many reports say these schools were poorly funded and relied mainly on church donations. The Roman Catholic Church in particular was responsible for operating up to 70% of residential schools, according to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. Children were also used to generate income by making them raise animals, produce clothing, grow vegetables.
Students were housed in poorly built, unsanitary conditions. At the schools, children of all ages followed strict rules that restricted their use of Indigenous languages and forbade the practice of their traditions and customs. Breaking the rules was not even an option and if done they were tortured with harsh punishments with former students describing “horrendous abuse at the hands of residential school staff: physical, sexual, emotional and psychological,” according to Indigenous Foundations.
How children went missing?
It was found that children who were sent to these schools never made it home. With constant physical and sexual abuse made them to run away. And the others who couldn’t, died there of disease or by accident amid neglect. The death rate of children by 1945 was nearly 5 times higher than other Canadian school children.
The practice was termed “cultural genocide” by the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created in 2008 to investigate the residential schools. Many children never came home, and their families were given either hazy or no information about their whereabouts. Between its establishment in 1883 and their closure in 1996, Canada had about 150 residential schools, with an estimated 150,000 Indigenous students passing through them.
The commission estimated that about 4,100 children went missing nationwide from the schools. But an Indigenous former judge who led the commission, Murray Sinclair, said in an email this month that he now believed the number was “well beyond 10,000.
Presently Several protests erupted across Canada after the 215 graves were found, culminating in the toppling of a statue of Egerton Ryerson, one of the key figures behind Canada’s residential school system.
The discoveries also cast a shadow over the country’s 1 July Canada Day holiday. Municipalities across Canada called off celebrations this year in recognition of the findings.
In early July, Mr Trudeau visited Cowessess First Nation and said it was “shameful” that children died because of residential schools and the “legacy of inter-generational trauma” caused by the policy.
The researchers are collectively working together to find more unmarked graves near these residential schools with bodies in it. This actor we can say crime against humanity will always stay in our hearts and minds and we mourn with families of children whose bodies were found.
If the Officials from the government, the church, and the schools were all fully aware of the shortcomings and their impact on student health. Then question is who all knew? Then the answer might be everyone at authority at one point of that times history.