Looking Back at Canada’s Indigenous Residential Schools

In late may, the remains of 215 children were found at the site of a former residential school for indigenous children, who died as a result of what the authorities called “cultural genocide.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the discovery as “heartbreaking.”

On 28 May, the discovery of the remains of 215 indigenous students from the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia shocked Canada and the world. The bodies were found on land behind the school, which was the country’s largest before it closed in 1978. It was run by a Catholic congregation called the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate from 1893 to 1969. 

According to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report released in 2015, roughly 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly assimilated through the residential school system from 1883 to 1998. 

The report revealed that nearly 3,200 died in these schools, with the majority of deaths happening before 1940. Scores of tuberculosis cases were also recorded in these institutions in the late 19th and early 20th century, with death rates remaining high until the 1950s.

The commission described the situation as “cultural genocide.”

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