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A memorial around the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on June 4, honoring 215 Indigenous children found buried in an unmarked, mass grave at a one-time residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Photo: David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A First Nation in Canada said Wednesday "hundreds" of unmarked graves have been discovered at the site of a former residential school in the prairie province of Saskatchewan.

Of note: The Cowessess First Nation said in a statement the number of graves found are "the most significantly substantial to date in Canada" — suggesting it's more than the remains of 215 Indigenous children discovered last month at a former residential school site in Kamloops, British Columbia.

The big picture: Many of the roughly 150,000 children from 1883 to 1996 forced to "assimilate" into white Canadian society by attending the schools — mostly run by Catholic missionaries — faced neglect and abuse in what Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined in 2015 was a "cultural genocide."

  • A commission report said some 3,200 children had died at the school sites, and Indigenous leaders have called for the Catholic Church to apologize. Pope Francis has said he's saddened by the graves find, but he hasn't apologized.

Details: The Cowessess First Nation said in its statement to news outlets that it made the "horrific and shocking discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School," which was in operation from 1899 to 1997.

  • The Catholic Church ran the school until 1979, when the Canadian government took over its administration.
  • The Cowessess First Nation said it would give more detail of the discovery at a news conference on Thursday.

What they're saying: Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde said in a statement that the latest find "is absolutely tragic, but not surprising."

  • "I urge all Canadians to stand with First Nations in this extremely difficult and emotional time," Bellegarde said.

What to watch: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this month Canada's government would help Indigenous leaders who requested assistance in searching for more mass graves.

Go deeper

Aug 30, 2021 - Health

CDC: Unvaccinated teacher caused an outbreak in classroom

Kindergarteners play during recess on the first day of school at Los Angeles Unified School District. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

An outbreak at an elementary school classroom in Marin County, California, appears to have been caused by an unvaccinated teacher who was occasionally unmasked, a new case study out Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

Why it matters: The outbreak — in which about 50% of the students got infected with COVID-19 — highlights the challenge of sending unvaccinated children back to school, particularly in light of the Delta variant’s increased transmissibility.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."