The site of a residential school that was once the largest in Canada has been hiding a gruesome secret for more than 40 years—one that serves as "a horrifying reminder of the abuses against Indigenous people in Canada," per CTV News. On Friday, Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation told the outlet that the remains of 215 children, some as young as 3, had been found using ground-piercing radar on the grounds of where the Kamloops Indian Residential School, shut down in 1978, once operated in Kamloops, British Columbia. A Tk'emlups te Secwepemc release calls it "an unthinkable loss," though one the Indigenous community had long suspected—especially as it's not the only school that saw children die of neglect, abuse, and sicknesses like tuberculosis, while leaving many survivors disabled and chronically ill.
The New York Times explains that, starting in the 1800s, Indigenous children were forced to attend such residential schools scattered around the country, and in many cases, the children were never returned home, with only vague explanations offered to their families, if they got an explanation at all. The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up as part of the Canadian government's apology and settlement for such abuses, found at least 4,100 children had died while at these institutions, calling residential schools a program of "cultural genocide." The Kamloops school, established in 1890, was run by the Catholic Church until the federal government took over in 1969. The last such residential school in Canada closed in 1996. Tk'emlups te Secwepemc leadership is assuming responsibility for IDing the children and notifying their families. "We do not want this to be hidden," Casimir tells CTV. "We want people to know that this history is real, the loss of the children is real." Much more here. (Read more Canada stories.)