Thanks to David Hawkins.
‘Tip of the iceberg.’
By Katie Dangerfield. Global News, May 28, 2021
At least 4,100 children have died while attending residential schools in Canada. And in the wake of the horrific news from Kamloops, B.C. — where 215 children were recently found buried at a former residential school — the number has grown.
On Thursday, the chief of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in B.C., Rosanne Casimir, said the remains were found last week buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School
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“Some were as young as three years old,” said Casimir. “We sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the final resting place of these children.”
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The 215 deaths are now tacked onto the 4,100 children who have previously been identified as having died of disease or accident while attending residential school, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Missing Children Project.
“I think that the heartbreaking revelation of yesterday means that there will be more,” Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett told Global News. “And we know there is a ‘knowing’ about these situations, probably from coast to coast.”
Read more: Grief, sorrow after discovery of 215 bodies, unmarked graves at former B.C. residential school site
In all, about 150,000 First Nations children went through Canada’s church-run residential school system, which ran from the 1870s until the 1990s. In many cases, children were forced to attend under a deliberate federal policy of “civilizing” Indigenous Peoples, the 2015 TRC report found.
In the 1920s, residential schools, like the Kamloops Indian Residential School, forced children to attend by law. If they didn’t, their parents faced prison time, according to the TRC.
A large number of Indigenous children who were forcibly sent to residential schools across Canada never returned to their home communities. Some ran away, while others died at school, according to the Missing Children Project, which launched in 2007.
The project works with residential school survivors and Indigenous organizations to document the deaths and burials of children who died while attending residential schools.
According to the project, many children were poorly nourished, physically or sexually abused and developed tuberculosis or other infections. They also died by suicide, died in accidents or simply ran away and were never seen or heard from again.