Jun 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Indigenous groups in Canada report 182 human remains found in unmarked graves

Solar lights and flags now mark the spots where 751 human remains were recently discovered in unmarked graves.
Solar lights and flags now mark the spots where 751 human remains were recently discovered in unmarked graves in British Columbia. Photo: Amru Salahuddien/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

An Indigenous group in the Canadian province of British Columbia has found 182 human remains in unmarked graves near a former residential school, the Lower Kootenay Band said in a release Wednesday, per AP.

The big picture: The discovery follows two other reports with similar findings at church-run schools.

  • Last week's discovery of 751 people, mainly Indigenous children, found in unmarked graves was the largest in Canada to date — and came less than one month after the remains 215 children were found on the grounds of another former boarding school in British Columbia.
  • The Lower Kootenay Band said it started using ground-penetrating radar last year to explore a site close to the now-closed St. Eugene’s Mission School, operated by the Roman Catholic Church between 1912 and the 1970s. The search yielded the humans remains, some found about 3-feet deep.
  • The remains are believed to be of people from the bands of the Ktunaxa Nation, including the Lower Kootenay Band and other First Nation communities, according to AP.

Catch up quick: Nearly 150,000 Indigenous children are believed to have passed through about 150 residential schools, which were run by the Catholic Church until 1979.

  • The schools housed the children and prohibited them from speaking their languages.
  • Many of the children never returned home and their families received little information — if any — about their fates.
  • Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has described the operation as nothing short of "cultural genocide."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to help Indigenous leaders in searching for more mass graves, as the country grapples with its history of widespread abuse of Indigenous people.

  • Indigenous leaders have called for the Catholic Church to apologize for its role in the schools. Pope Francis said earlier this month he was saddened over the discovery of the remains, but he has not apologized.

Go deeper: 751 unmarked graves discovered at former school for Indigenous children in Canada

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