Residential schools: a dark page in Canadian history

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A most sad and gruesome discovery has been made behind the old Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia.

What happened?

Indeed, a mass grave of 215 children was found at the end of May 2021. The indigenous community Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc indicated that an expert had used ground penetrating radar to make the sad discovery. Some were only 3 years old, notes chef Rosanne Casimir. According to her, the death of these children, of which we do not know the cause or the date, has never been documented by the management of the boarding school, even if their disappearance was known by members of this community.

For his part, Perry Bellegrade, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, argued that Canada could no longer escape the dark chapter in its history of residential schools. The recent discovery shook Canadians, but he warns that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Several flags across the country were at half mast for 215 hours. 215 pairs of shoes were also filed in Kamloops court as a token of remembrance.

What is an aboriginal residential school?

Kamloops Residential School, located on the territory of the Aboriginal community of Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc, was the largest in Canada from 1890 to 1977. It received up to 500 students in the 1950s.

Created and managed by the Catholic Church and then by the federal government, this boarding school that everyone is talking about these days was one of the 140 that lasted in Canada until the end of the 20th century.

The church and the Canadian government, claiming to want to "civilize" native children by instilling Western values in them, removed them from their community and placed them in these residential schools where many of them suffered physical and sexual abuse. Thousands of them died or disappeared, according to the report of a commission of inquiry.

This capsule produced by the team of Maj popularizes all the information necessary for you to understand the dark history of the Indian residential schools in Canada:

Deep wounds

From the cruel fate of these children who died alone, to that of Joyce Echaquan, this 37-year-old Atikamekw mother who died in hospital in tragic circumstances (see the SCOOP guide! #JusticeForJoyce), there is unfortunately a common thread: the dehumanization of Indigenous peoples engendered by colonialist and racist Canadian policies. The following educational activities will help you shed light on the deep wounds that persist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.


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