The graves found reveal a black Canadian page: what happened to children in boarding schools?

Representatives of the local community Cowessess First Nation (a body of local self-government in the southeastern province of Saskatchewan) announced the graves found in the village of Marievali.

According to the BBC’s Russian-language news service’s website, this is the largest grave found.

In May, 215 children’s graves were found on the territory of a similar establishment in Kamloops (British Columbia).

“This is not a mass grave, but individual nameless graves,” said Cadmus Delorm, head of Cowessess First Nation.

Georadar was used during the search to see underground objects.

The search is funded by the state and will continue elsewhere.

“This is just the beginning,” said Bobby Cameron, president of the Canadian Federation of Indigenous Peoples.

It has not yet been determined whether the remains found in Marieval are children and whether they are related to the school that operated here.

In the course of the investigation, Cowessess First Nation is looking forward to the cooperation of the Catholic Church, which managed the boarding school in Marieval from 1899 to 1997, according to an article published on the BBC’s Russian-language news service’s website.

Scanpix / ZUMA Press / The Canadian Press / Vancouver Commemoration Ceremony

Sent by force

Based on speeches among the locals, Delorm suspects that burial sites had been marked in the past, but in the 1960s the administration destroyed the signs.

Cameron agrees:

“Without a doubt, they tried to cover up the number of children who were mistreated and killed in these institutions. Canada will go down in history as a nation trying to exterminate the natives. “

In an interview with Reuters, Delorm said it was possible that some of the people buried in the school cemetery in Marieval were adult Catholic parishioners who did not belong to the local nations.

Heather Bear, vice president of the Federation of Indigenous Peoples of Canada, who attended school in Marieval in the 1970s, remembers that there really was a cemetery there, even though it didn’t look as big as it was discovered now.

Also, the fact that the children tried not to walk next to them, according to the BBC Russian-language news service.

Scanpix / Reuters / Memorial to children who died at Brandon Boarding School in Canada

Scanpix / Reuters / Memorial to children who died at Brandon Boarding School in Canada

Between 1863 and 1998, there were more than 130 state-funded boarding schools in Canada.

More than 150,000 people were forcibly sent to integrate into Canadian society. children of indigenous peoples.

According to different data, from 3.2 to 6 thousand. they died, others fled – mostly due to poor living conditions.

Student dormitories were set up in poorly constructed and poorly heated buildings with no sanitary facilities, and children were poorly fed and treated.

Children were forbidden to speak their own languages ​​and to follow the customs of their nation.

Representatives of the administration used physical and sexual violence.

Scanpix / Reuters / Boarding School in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, 1947

Scanpix / Reuters / Boarding School in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, 1947

“We were humiliated as a nation and forced to renounce our identity,” said Florence Spavier, a student at one of those boarding schools.

We were humiliated as a nation and forced to deny our identities.

The head of the Federation of Indigenous Peoples called boarding schools a “crime scene” and a “concentration camp,” according to an article published on the BBC’s Russian-language news service’s website.

Cultural genocide

A commission set up by the Canadian government in 2008 found that most such boarding students did not return to their communities.

She called the policy of forced assimilation a cultural genocide.

The Canadian government then apologized to the locals.

The Catholic Church, which has administered about 70 percent of such boarding schools, has not yet done so.

After finding burials in Kamloops, Pope Francis said he was disappointed and urged everyone to respect the rights and culture of the local peoples, but refrained from making an official apology.

ZUMAPRESS / Scanpix photo / Pope Francis

ZUMAPRESS / Scanpix photo / Pope Francis

According to the BBC’s Russian-language news service, the Catholic Bishop of Saskatchewan, Don Bohlen, donated $ 70,000 to Cowessess First Nation in 2019 for the maintenance of school cemeteries and the identification of remains.

He also provided activists with death certificates in church archives.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was terribly disappointed by the burials found in Marieval and called it a shameful reminder of systemic racism, discrimination and injustice against indigenous peoples.

In light of recent events, the authorities of some cities in the provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have canceled the commemoration of Canada’s July 1 celebrations.

The Canadian Press nuotr./Justinas Trudeau

The Canadian Press nuotr./Justinas Trudeau

Several monuments to figures have been desecrated or dismantled, including the first Prime Minister of Canada, John A. Macdonald, who was involved in one way or another in setting up boarding schools, according to an article published on the BBC’s Russian-language news service’s website.

Delorm expressed the hope that “by behaving the way we do today, we will finally achieve complete reconciliation.”


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