Toronto, Canada, May 29 (EFE).- The remains of hundreds of kids have been discovered in a mass grave at the site of a former Canadian residential school that forcibly separated indigenous children from their families to assimilate them.
The painful discovery in Kamloops of western Canada, where colonial authorities forcibly interned the Aborigines for decades, has reopened the wounds of the harrowing racist past and cultural genocide committed to annihilating indigenous people.
On Friday, Rosanne Casimir, the chief of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, an indigenous group from British Columbia, told reporters that a ground-penetrating radar had located the remains of 215 children at the site of the school that was closed in 1969.
Casimir told EFE that the discovery confirmed the oral history passed on from several generations on missing children in the town, located about 350 km northeast of Vancouver.
It reasserted the suspicions about what used to happen happened in the Kamloops residential school.
The school was the largest in the residential school system run by the government and religious authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries to assimilate indigenous children.
The school, managed by the Catholic Church, opened in 1890. Each year, it housed up to 500 children of the indigenous communities.
The Canadian authorities ran thousands of residential schools but have never confirmed the exact number of such facilities.
Rough estimates put the number between 3,000 and 6,000 across the country for tens of thousands of indigenous children.
In 2015, a truth and reconciliation report concluded that the authorities had used the boarding school system as a tool to commit “cultural genocide” against the indigenous people of the country.
“For over a century, the central goals of Canada’s aboriginal policy were to eliminate aboriginal governments; ignore aboriginal rights; terminate the treaties; and, through a process of assimilation, cause aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious, and racial entities in Canada,” the truth and reconciliation commission said in its report.
“The establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy, which can best be described as cultural genocide.”
The commission interviewed thousands of survivors from residential schools who described the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse that many of them suffered.
The authorities even used children to conduct “scientific” experiments on malnutrition.
The commission estimated that around 3,200 children might have died in these boarding schools.
In the case of the Kamloops school, the commission confirmed the death of 51 children during the years it was in operation.
Chief Harvey McLeod of the Upper Nicola Band is one of the survivors of the Kamloops residential school.
McLeod recalled hearing of children going missing during his time at the school.
“It was assumed that they ran away and were never going to come back. We just never seen them again and nobody ever talked about them,” he told the Canadian television station CTV.
“I just remember that they were here one day and they were gone the next.”