Jan 26, 2022 - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

People at a memorial for 215 kids whose remains were found in a  grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada on May 31.

A makeshift memorial honoring the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, last May. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous leaders in Canada's western province of British Columbia said Tuesday they believe they've found 93 unmarked graves near a former boarding school.

The big picture: Hundreds of mass graves have been found at the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children since last May, when the remains of 215 children were uncovered at one such site in B.C.

  • The finds have renewed calls for justice and the full release of records from Canada's government over the forced assimilation of nearly 150,000 children into white Canadian society from 1883 to 1996 at boarding schools, where native languages and cultures were forbidden.
  • Canada's government apologized in 2008, admitting that physical and sexual abuse was widespread in the schools, many of which were run by the Catholic Church until 1979. Indigenous groups and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have urged the Pope to apologize for the atrocities.

Details: Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars said at a news conference Tuesday that geophysical techniques including ground-penetrating radar identified "potential human burials" at the site of the former St. Joseph's Mission school — which was in operation from 1886 to 1981 and was mostly run by the Roman Catholic missionaries.

  • Excavation would be needed to confirm this, Sellars added.

What they're saying: "For decades there were reports of neglect and abuse at the St. Joseph's Mission, and worse, there were reports of children dying or disappearing from the facility," Williams said.

  • "For the bulk of St. Joseph's Mission’s history, these reports were at best given no credence. ... There can be no reconciliation before there is truth."

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