Heartbreaking discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children in B.C.

Heartbreaking discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children in B.C.

Some were as a young as three years old.

They went missing and many at the school thought they had run away. But that wasn’t the case. The children were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia that closed in 1978, according to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation, which said the remains were found with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist.

Canada’s residential school system forcibly separated indigenous children from their families, and constituted a “cultural genocide.” The report documented horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition and other atrocities suffered by many of the 150,000 children who attended the schools, typically run by Christian churches on behalf of Ottawa from the 1840s to the 1990s.

More than 4,000 children died while attending residential school. The deaths of the 215 children buried in the grounds of what was once Canada’s largest residential school are believed to not have been included in that figure and appear to have been undocumented until the discovery. (REUTERS)

We take a look back at a conversation with Elder Barney Williams and Shirley Williams who both survived residential schools on opposite ends of the country. They sit down with Lorna Dueck and Justice Murray Sinclair, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to recount the trauma of being taken away from their families in their formative years. The purpose of the residential schools were to separate children from their families, to remove the cultural impact. As a result, both Shirley and Barney say they were made to feel ashamed of their culture and identity. Like so many Indigenous people, this trauma is passed down through generations.


About the Author /