The head of the Canadian indigenous community Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, Rosanne Casimir, reported discovering the remains of 215 children, confirming one of the darkest and most terrible chapters in the country’s history.
“This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings came to light: the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School,” Casimir was quoted as saying by regional media CFJC Today on May 27.
She also stated that the deaths of those children, even as young as 3 years old, were not documented, adding, “At this point we have more questions than answers.”
The Tk’emlups Heritage Park, where the former school buildings are located, is now closed to the public while work continues, with the possibility of teams finding more remains after 20 years of investigations.
The Kamloops Indian Residential School was founded by the Catholic Church and operated from 1890 to 1969, with a peak of 500 students in the 1950s. Other boarding schools began operating as early as 1840, and between them may have housed some 150,000 minors.
The federal government administered it from 1969 to 1978, using the building as a residence for students attending other Kamloops schools to forget their Aboriginal customs and languages. In some cases, Canadian authorities conducted “scientific” experiments on them.
Numerous indigenous children disappeared from the boarding schools because they ran away or died there, without their whereabouts being known.
For one of the students who attended the school in the late 1960s, Harvey McLeod, the news of the discovery was painful: “I lost my heart, it was so much pain and sorrow to finally hear, to the outside world, what we assumed was going on there,” he said.
He added: “The abuse that happened to me was physical, yes, it was sexual, yes, and in 1966 I was a person who didn’t want to live anymore, it changed me,” McLeod said.
For its part, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community confirmed the finding and mentioned an “unthinkable loss that was talked about, but never documented.”
In 2015, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a report chronicling the damage caused by the country’s residential school system.
Thousands of children were separated from their families and forced to attend residential schools, where they suffered physical, sexual, and emotional abuse for nearly a century—a terrible chapter in Canadian history.
It is estimated that more than 4,000 children died while in residential schools over several decades, and it is acknowledged that it is impossible to know the actual number.
Although in 2019, the Canadian government recognized the harm inflicted on Indigenous peoples as tantamount to genocide, and the Commission recommended 94 actions toward redressing the harm caused, very few have been executed.
Worse, apparently, some ‘special’ guests were being housed in these schools with unknown motives, as mentioned by Twitter user @EdixonMurillo.
“Well, if I’m not mistaken, this is where the Royals [members of the British Royal Household] used to come and visit these schools for some reason. Lots of stories about them and children disappearing around the time of their visit. LOOK IT UP, in the Canadian archives.”
Another netizen, @NodinNganji, communicates the misleading propaganda used by the Canadian government to justify the internment of children in the terrible schools.
“Remains of 215 Here is Thomas Moore “before and after” 1874. He was a student at the Regina Indian residential school (boys’ death school). He was made to wear women’s attire in the before as ‘savage’ and a suit in the after as ‘civilized,’ to justify the schools.”