For the third time in a short time in Canada, children‘s graves were found near a former boarding school for indigenous children. At the Catholic school in Cranbrook, in British Columbia province, 182 unmarked graves were found this time, according to an indigenous group. That happened using radar technology.
The group, Lower Kootenay Band, reports that ground research has been done at the mission school since last year. The radar images show that they are relatively shallow graves. Some are just a meter deep. The graves would be children belonging to the native Ktunaxa tribe.
In recent times, two other former boarding houses in Canada have found nearly a thousand graves. Between the early 20th century and 1970, an estimated 150,000 indigenous children attended the 139 boarding schools. They were taken away from their families and sent to schools with the intention of assimilating them to the dominant European culture.
“Excuses not Enough.”
“Let’s call it what it is: mass murder of indigenous people,” responds Chief Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band at Canadian broadcaster CBC. “We‘ve been robbed of our future elders. If these children hadn’t died, they could have been sages or teachers in our community. It‘s awful.”
The Canadian government apologized to the indigenous groups in 2008 and recognized that physical and mental abuse was common in schools. For example, children were beaten because they spoke their mother tongue. Some of the children were no older than 3 years old when they died and buried in unmarked graves.
“The Nazis were held accountable for their war crimes. I see no difference from finding out the location of priests and nuns responsible for this mass murder,” Louie said. He speaks of an attempt at genocide and thinks that apologies are not enough. “Defersion of justice is the same as denying justice.”
Churches on fire
Since the discovery of the graves, several Catholic churches have burned down, presumably those fires were lit. Also last day, two churches went up in flames, reports AFP news agency. Prime Minister Trudeau condemns the possible arson. “We need to work together to rectify past mistakes. Everyone has a role to do that.”
The Canadian Prime Minister continued to say at a press conference that the many graves found “force Canadians to reflect on the historical and continuing injustice that affects indigenous peoples”. Meanwhile, the pressure on Canada Day National Day, which is celebrated today, is increasing and several places have announced to keep this year’s celebration subdued.