The bodies of 215 children were discovered buried on the grounds of a defunct residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.
The remains were confirmed last weekend with the help of a ground-penetrating radar specialist, according to Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in a news release.
“An unspeakable loss that was spoken about but never documented at the Kamloops Indian Residential School,” Casimir said of the find.
Although a local museum archivist is working with the Royal British Columbia Museum to see if any records of the fatalities can be unearthed, she believes the deaths are unreported.
She claims the children, some as young as three years old, were students at the school, which was previously Canada’s largest residential school.
The endeavor to identify the location was spearheaded by the First Nation’s language and cultural department, with ceremonial knowledge keepers ensuring that the job was per cultural standards, according to the chief.
According to Casimir, the Tk’emlups community’s leadership “acknowledges their responsibility to care for these missing youngsters.”
According to the announcement on Thursday, “access to the newest technology enables for a true accounting of the missing children and will perhaps provide some peace and closure to those lives lost.”
According to Casimir, band administrators are contacting community members and neighbours who have children who attended the school.
“This is just the beginning,” she continues, “but given the nature of this news, we felt it was vital to share it right away.”
Between 1890 and 1969, the school was open. The federal government took over the church’s functioning and used it as a day school until 1978 when it closed.
More than five years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report on residential schools. The nearly 4,000-page report recounts the heinous exploitation of Indigenous children at the institutions, where at least 3,200 Indigenous children perished as a result of abuse and neglect.