Canada: Mystery of finding dead bodies of children on former home grounds

Früheres Kinderheim für Indigene in Kamloops

Boarding school for sons and daughters of indigenous people once under the sponsorship of the church

The remains of the bodies of 215 children were found on the site of a former church boarding school in Canada. Sons and daughters from indigenous families were once housed there. Politicians and church representatives are apprehensive.

Ottawa / London – 29.05.2021

The bodies of 215 children have been found on the site of a former children’s home in Canada. As the British broadcaster BBC reported on Saturday, a mass grave was found during a radar investigation. The Children’s Home is a boarding school opened by the Catholic Church in 1890 to sons and daughters of indigenous families near the small town of Kamloops in the west of the country. In the 1950s, about 500 children were placed there; State officials took power in 1969 and the house was closed in 1978.

Rosanne Casimir, the head of the indigenous community Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, had already informed of the discovery on Thursday. The deaths were reportedly not documented, with some children being only three years old at the time of their deaths. The indigenous community now intends to work with forensic doctors and museums in the area to clarify further background. Preliminary results are expected in mid-June.

Kamloops Boarding School was one of 139 re-education homes in Canada. Between 143 and 1949, more than 150,000 indigenous children ended up in these facilities. There they were often not allowed to speak in their mother tongue, and many of them were abused or abused.

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Bishop: “Terrible search”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the search on Twitter “a painful reminder of this dark and shameful chapter in our nation’s history”. The Bishop of Kamloops, Joseph Nguyen, in a letter, promised support for the indigenous community and chief Rosneh Kasimir. There are not enough words of sadness to describe this “terrible discovery”.

Lawyer Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established in Canada in 2008 reported 50 deaths in Kamloops. In general, however, there are “ongoing massive problems” in the reconstruction of events. It is also due to the fact that Catholic agencies are still withholding the files, the director of the History and Dialogue Center for Re-Education Centers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver told Canadian broadcaster CBC.

The latest discovery has confirmed reports of survivors that many children went to school and never returned again. Turpel-Lafond said officials often take the children from school to school so that Kamloops’ 215 bodies can include members from other indigenous communities. So far, experts have detected the deaths of 4,100 children across the country. However, the number of unreported cases is likely higher, it is said. (Kna)

May 30, 3:55 PM: Added with more details.

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