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Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau during a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, earlier this month. Photo: David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged Monday to help after Indigenous leaders called for residential school grounds across Canada to be searched for mass graves after the remains of 215 children were uncovered at a school site.

Driving the news: Trudeau noted during a Monday briefing on last week's discovery at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia that "sadly, this is not an exception or an isolated incident" and finding other mass grave sites was "an important part of discovering the truth."

Zoom in: Trudeau said the government would do more, without elaborating further, and said the government was "committed to helping" Indigenous communities.

  • "As they make requests, as there is a need for discovering more, we will continue to be there," he added.
  • "We haven't looked at exactly what the processes, or the needs are entirely, but Canada will be there to support indigenous communities as we discover the extent of this trauma."

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

  • A report by the commission, titled "Missing Children and Unmarked Burials," found some 3,200 children had died at school sites, with parents speaking of "children who went to school and never returned." Another 900 kids have since been identified, Reuters notes.

What they're saying: Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, said it's "absolutely essential that there be a national program to thoroughly investigate all residential school sites in regard to unmarked mass graves," per Reuters.

  • Federation chief Bobby Cameron said locating and burying the remains of missing children was "important to help First Nations communities and families find closure," the Guardian reports.

Go deeper

Poll: Majority of Minnesotans fear back-to-school COVID case surge

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A majority of Minnesota adults (56%) are worried that the start of the school year will result in another surge of COVID-19 cases, according to a new Axios/Momentive poll.

Why it matters: The poll of more than 38,000 U.S. adults — including 1,056 Minnesotans — last month reflects the anxiety and tension many of us are feeling about another school year upended by the pandemic.

  • Already high COVID-19 case numbers are fueling concerns about classroom outbreaks and learning disruptions.

Driving the news: Most school districts statewide are back to in-person instruction as of this week.School districts across Minnesota are back to in-person instruction as of this week. Minneapolis schools start today and St. Paul tomorrow.

State of play: Without statewide mandates in place, parents and teachers are navigating a patchwork of masking and quarantining policies that vary by district.

  • And bus driver shortages, tied to broader pandemic pressure on the labor market, are forcing some schools to stagger start times and shuffle plans.

Between the lines: Anecdotally, we know many families are also concerned about what another year of class quarantines and closures will mean for students and working parents alike.

  • Those fears might be justified. Just days into the school year, Albert Lea had to send 290 kids home to quarantine due to an outbreak. There wasn't a mask mandate at the time.

Another example: Political operative Jen DeJournett tweeted recently that her vaccinated, mask-wearing 13-year-old daughter was forced to miss days at her Maple Grove charter school after a maskless, unvaccinated classmate who sat nearby tested positive. A negative test wasn't enough to get her back.

  • "As a mom, I’m going to lose my mind," she told Torey. "The [state] guidance is a mess and the local officials and local school nurses don't know what to do."

Plus, those mask mandates continue to divide Minnesotans: 52% of the roughly 280 local parents who responded to the poll question support them, while 38% are opposed. Another 9% supported mask mandates for unvaccinated students and staff.

  • The poll, conducted Aug. 16-26, suggests more opposition here than in some states with even higher case counts and bans prohibiting such COVID mitigation measures, including in Texas and Florida

What to watch: An influx of school and child care cases could create new demand for testing.

The bottom line: Experts say mitigation strategies, including masking, and continuing to vaccinate as many eligible Minnesotans as possible could help keep the year on track.

The data are from an Axios|Momentive online poll conducted August 16-25, 2021 among 38,251 adults ages 18 and older in the United States. The modeled error estimate for the full, national sample is plus or minus 1.0 percentage points.

32 mins ago - World

Report: LGBTQ+ Afghans' lives "dramatically worsened" under Taliban rule

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

LGBTQ+ Afghans have been threatened, attacked and "faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety" since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August, per a report published Wednesday.

What they're saying: "We spoke with LGBT Afghans who have survived gang rape, mob attacks, or have been hunted by their own family members who joined the Taliban, and they have no hope that state institutions will protect them," per a statement from study co-author J. Lester Feder.

2 hours ago - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

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.