At least 600 unmarked graves were discovered at a former residential school for Indigenous children in Canada, Indigenous leaders said Thursday. The discovery comes less than a month after officials found the bodies ofburied at another school in British Columbia.
The hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered at the former Marieval Residential School in Saskatchewan, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said in a news conference Thursday. Delorme said a search resulted in 751 "hits" but the radar used has a 10 to 15% error rate.
"We cannot affirm that they are all children," he said. "This is not a mass gravesite. These are unmarked graves."
Delorme said the Catholic Church operated the school and its graveyard from 1886 to 1970 and removed headstones at the graves in the 1960s. The news comes less than a month after the discovery of 215 bodies of children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
Chief Bobby Cameron, of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, said the Cowessess people will not stop until all of the bodies of Indigenous children buried on residential school grounds have been found.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday called the pain Canada's indigenous community is the country's "responsibility to bear" and vowed to dedicate resources to "to bring these terrible wrongs to light."
"The findings in Marieval and Kamloops are part of a larger tragedy. They are a shameful reminder of the systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice that Indigenous peoples have faced — and continue to face — in this country. And together, we must acknowledge this truth, learn from our past, and walk the shared path of reconciliation, so we can build a better future," Trudeau said in a statement.