Canada’s shameful treatment towards the Indigenous community has once again come to light in a saddening way. On Thursday, May 29, 2021, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found in British Columbia on what was once Kamloops Indian Residential School according to Al Jazeera. This was confirmed by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation chief Rosanne Casimir. According to Chief Casimir, many of these missing children were as young as three years old. Though found on the grounds of what was once Kamloops Indian Residential School, many children may have been far from home, though Chief Casimir spoke with
Al Jazeera and stated that “Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the final resting place of these children”. Ceremonies across Canada have been held to honour these children. Casimir stated that “To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,”. Many families were never given closure or had been aware of the whereabouts of their missing and deceased children. According to Al Jazeera, Danielle Morrison who is an Anishinaabe lawyer described this news as one that has been met with collective pain and trauma throughout the entirety of the Indigenous community across Canada. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba also spoke on this matter and Al Jazeera stated that “This news is a stark reminder of the violence inflicted by the residential school system and the wounds carried by communities, families and Survivors into the present”. On Friday Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister stated that “the discovery of the children’s bodies “is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history”.
Though Stephen Harper’s government has made a formal apology in 2008 towards the Indigenous Community in Canada, this will never help the pain the community has long suffered. The intergenerational trauma that families have been left with due to residential schools is not something that will ever go away. Families were torn apart and children were stripped of their identities in an attempt to assimilate them to fit white Eurocentric standards. Rich and diverse cultures and languages were lost, and children suffered diseases, sexual abuse and trauma while at these residential schools. The remains of the 215 children that were recently discovered do not even account for the estimated 4,100 children who died in these schools according to Al Jazeera.
As stated by Al Jazeera, in 2015, a national truth and reconciliation commission stated that Canada had committed “cultural genocide” by forcing more than 150,000 Indigenous children to attend residential schools. Though schools no longer exist, the painful memories continue to persist for Indigenous communities in Canada. According to Al Jazeera, in 2020, the Canadian government spent 3.2 million dollars fighting a group of survivors who outlined the abuse that took place in St Anne’s Indian Residential School which was located in Ontario. People must still be held accountable for this atrocity that was committed against these innocent individuals.
The Indigenous community needs the support of fellow Canadians, the international community and human rights groups to ensure that the Canadian government honours the lives of the children lost in these schools. With pressure on the government, they can be held accountable for both their history and the continued poor treatment of the Indigenous community.
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