A look at the unmarked graves found at Canadian former residential school sites

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Canada has been rocked by the disclosures of more than 1,000 unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools – institutions that were part of an abusive system that the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called “cultural genocide” in 2015.

Here are some of the discoveries that have been made:

  • Kamloops Indian Residential School – Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, British Columbia:

On May 27, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation in British Columbia said it had discovered the unmarked graves of an estimated 215 children near the site of the former Catholic-run Kamloops Indian Residential School.

  • Marieval Indian Residential School – Cowessess First Nation, Saskatchewan:

On June 24, the Cowessess First Nation said it had discovered the unmarked graves of an estimated 751 people near the site of the former Catholic-run Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.  

  • St. Eugene’s Mission School – ʔaq’am First Nation, British Columbia:

On June 30, the Lower Kootenay Band said the ʔaq’am First Nation discovered the remains of an estimated 182 people, including an unknown number of children, in 2020 near the site of the former Catholic-run St. Eugene’s Mission School near Cranbrook, British Columbia.

  • Brandon Indian Residential School – Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, Manitoba:

Since 2012, research has been conducted to identify people buried at three sites near the former Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba, which was run by both the Methodist and United churches. Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has said there are an estimated 104 people buried at those sites, about 78 of whom are accounted for in death records.

  • Muskowekwan Indian Residential School – Muskowekwan First Nation, Saskatchewan:

Bones started turning up near the site of the former Catholic-run Muskowekwan Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan during water-line work in the early 1990s. The Muskowekwan First Nation in partnership with two universities found 35 unmarked graves in 2018 and further searches are being carried out.

Photo: A view of a tribute in front of the Catholic St-Franics Xavier Mission, for the 215 children buried in an unmarked mass grave on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, in Kahnawake reserve, Canada. EPA-EFE/Andre Pichette