After the remains of 215 children were found near the Kamloops Indian Residential School last week, Indigenous leaders are calling on the Trudeau government to aid in the search for more of these graves that are suspected to exist. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in the 4th volume of the report, titled ‘Missing Children and Unmarked Burials,’ identified at least 3,200 children who died at residential schools but could be as high as 6,000. Out of that number, only around 2,000 have been identified.
The government initially rejected $1.5 million in requested funding for the search but in 2019 announced $33.8 million over three years for a ‘National Residential School Student Death Register’ which was aimed at creating an online registry of those who died in residential schools. The discovery of the 215 sets of remains has renewed calls to investigate the unaccounted-for children who were taken to residential school further, reports Reuters.
The new energy behind this effort stems from the Tk’emlúps te Secwe?pemc First Nation announcing they had found the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, buried near the Kamloops Indian Residential School, once Canada’s largest residential school. The Tk’emlúps te Secwe?pemc First Nation have released very little detail about the site; the site was discovered using ground-penetrating radar.
"A thorough investigation into all former residential school sites could lead to more truths of the genocide against our people," said Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Prime Minister Trudeau said, "I think there will be more that we will do," but did not elaborate.