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Hundreds of unmarked graves have been discovered on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, Canada, announced by the Cowessess First Nation. Indigenous leaders say that more graves will be found by them at other sites.
Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan said that nearly 600 graves had been found by them after 751 “hits” detected by the radar in a field on the school grounds.
In a news conference on Tuesday, he said, “This is not a mass gravesite. These are unmarked graves.”
Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indian Nations said that the latest discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia depicts the “genocide” committed by Canada.
It was determined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2015 that more than 140,000 Indigenous children had been forcefully sent to residential schools.
Cameron, on Tuesday, said that there are numerous burial sites like at Marieval and Kamloops and they will continue the search.
He stated, “We will find more bodies and we will not stop until we find all our children.”
“The world is watching Canada as we unearth the findings of genocide. We had concentration camps here. We had them here in Canada, in Saskatchewan, they were called Indian residential schools”, he said adding; “Now we have evidence.”
Delorme said that the Roman Catholic Church administered the gravesite at Marieval. The oral stories, over the years, from indigenous elders talked of the burials.
Delorme said, “In 1960, there may have been marks on these graves.”
“The Catholic Church representatives removed these headstones and today they are unmarked graves”, he added.
He further said that in Canada it is a crime to remove the gravestone and the area is being treated as a crime scene.
He said, “We cannot confirm they are all children. But there are oral stories that there are adults in this gravesite, as well.”
Talking about the number of graves, Delorme said that the ground-penetrating radar technology had been used to find out the graves, which had an error rate of roughly 10-15 percent. There were 715 “hits”, which means “at least 600” graves.
The discovery came a few weeks after the remains of 215 children were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada described the discovery as heartbreaking.
Recalling her time at the Marieval boarding school, Elder Florence Sparver said that the Catholic nuns were “rough” with the Indigenous children and forbade them from keeping their customs. Remembering this she said, “We had our own way of honouring ourselves and Mother Earth.”
Following the Kamloops discovery, the history of Canada’s boarding schools for Indigenous children has made national news.
Geraldine Bob, a survivor of the Kamloops Indian Residential School said about her experience there, “They would just start beating you and lose control and hurl you against the wall, throw you on the floor, kick you, punch you.”
Catholic Church also administered the Kamloops. “Pain” was expressed by Pope Francis and condolences after the “upsetting discoveries of the remains of 215 children” were offered by him, however, he did not accept the responsibility for the actions of his church.
Delorme said that to help survivors and descendants heal “The pope needs to apologise for what has happened to the Marieval residential school.”
“An apology is one stage of many in the healing journey”, he added.Follow us: