Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

Warning: The story below contains details of residential schools that may be disturbing. Canada’s Indian Residential School Survivors and Family Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

Indigenous community leaders have begun searching for unmarked graves at the site of a former boarding school for indigenous children near Toronto, Canada, such as calls to uncover the full scope of abuses related to the country’s decades-long “residential schools” system continues.

The search began Tuesday at the former Mohawk Institute Residential School site in Brantford, Ontario – one of Canada’s oldest and longest-running such institutions.

It is one of dozens of searches underway or planned across the country after the discoveries of more than 1,200 unmarked graves this year at former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

“This is the first step in our journey to bring our children home,” Mark Hill, elected head of the Grand River Six Nations, told a news conference. reported by CBC News.

“Although it will undoubtedly be a difficult process, Six Nations hopes that we as a nation
healed together by eventually bringing our children home, ”the community also said in a statement earlier Tuesday.

Between the late 1800s and 1990s, the Canadian government forced more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children to attend residential schools.

The children were stripped of their languages ​​and culture, separated from siblings, sent hundreds of miles away from home and subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Thousands were reportedly killed.

A federal commission of inquiry into the institutions, known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), concluded in 2015 that Canada’s residential school system amounts to “cultural genocide”.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised financial assistance and other support to help indigenous communities find more unmarked graves and address the system’s lasting damage.

“We must all learn about the history and legacy of residential schools. It is only by looking these hard truths in the face and correcting these wrong things that we can move forward together towards a more positive, just and better future, ”Trudeau said in a statement on September 30, Canada ‘s first ever. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

But indigenous advocates say the government has failed to implement most of the TRC’s calls for action, and they also say that current policies continue indigenously disadvantaged children In Canada.

Indigenous communities, which have been faltering ever since the first discovery of 215 indigenous children’s remains at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia at the end of May, also calls on the Catholic Church to release all its records related to residential schools.

Meanwhile, some leaders have demanded it criminal charges be laid against the federal government, the church, as well as any individual abusers who are still alive.

The search at the Mohawk Institute Residential School site began after months of planning, including police training of local First Nation community members to use ground-penetrating radar to scan about 500 acres at the site, Hill said.

“We’ve finally made it to this day where we’m ready to start the search,” he said.

“Survivors have been telling us for years the stories of what happened to them in the so-called schools. This investigation and the important work that goes with it is for survivors and is led by survivors.

Children’s toys and shoes sit on the porch as a tribute to the missing children of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School, in Brantford, Canada, on November 9 [Cole Burston/AFP]

“For many, this day has been long awaited, but it also brings back a vivid reminder of the atrocities committed against our people in these institutions.”

The search and analysis of the results can take up to two years.

In 1885, Brantford School became part of a network of 139 residential schools opened across Canada. It is estimated that 90 to 200 students were enrolled each year before it closed in 1970.

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