An Indigenous Canadian group announced plans Saturday to identify the remains of 215 children, some as young as three, found buried at the site of a former residential school, per CBC News.
The big picture: The Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation children were victims of a nationwide policy of the 19th and 20th Centuries that saw Indigenous children forcibly removed from families to attend state-funded Christian schools in order to "assimilate" them into white Canadian society.
- Canada's government apologized in Parliament in 2008, admitting that physical and sexual abuse in the schools was widespread.
- The students were forbidden from speaking their native languages and "many were beaten and verbally abused," with up to 6,000 believed to have died, AP notes.
Details: Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation Chief Rosanne Casimir said in a statement announcing the discovery Thursday, "To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths."
- She said in a later statement that more bodies could be uncovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, which closed in 1978, because not all areas of the grounds had been searched.
- Assembly of First Nations regional chief Terry Teegee told the CBC that forensic experts would join the BC Coroners Service and the Royal B.C. Museum for the identification protest.
- The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation wrote to to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Saturday, urging him order Canadian flags to be lowered and to declare a national day of mourning.
What they're saying: Trudeau tweeted Friday that the discovery of the children's remains was "a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country's history."