More unmarked graves discovered in British Columbia at a former Indigenous residential school known as ‘Canada’s Alcatraz’

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The latest grim discovery follows other similar findings in British Columbia and the province of Saskatchewan.

Hundreds of unmarked graves have been discovered in recent weeks and dozens of investigations, many using ground radar, are continuing on the grounds of former residential schools across the country.

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“It is impossible to overcome genocide and human rights violations. Healing is an ongoing process, and sometimes it goes well, and sometimes we lose more people because the burden is too great. We are at a different time where we have to face it.” trauma as a result of this genocide. Every time we do that, it is possible to heal a little bit more,” the Penelakut tribe said in a statement posted by the neighboring Cowichan tribes on its Facebook page.

The Penelakut tribe confirmed the contents of the statement to CNN, but has not yet responded to a request for comment.

In a 1997 documentary posted to YouTube and produced with federal funding, Kuper Industrial School survivors describe it as “Canada’s Alcatraz.”

Survivors of the school on the island say some children died after going into the water in whatever they could find to try to escape the abuse they suffered at the school.

The statement, on behalf of Penelakut chieftain Joan Brown and councilors, did not say whether ground radar was used to uncover the unmarked graves or whether they contained the remains of children or adults.

The Kuper Island Residential School in British Columbia is depicted in this June 19, 1941 archival photograph.

“We understand that many of our brothers and sisters from our neighboring communities have attended Kuper Island Industrial School. We also recognize with immense sadness and loss that too many people have not returned home,” the tribe said in the statement.

The Penelakut tribe announced to neighboring tribes and communities that they would be holding “healing sessions” and a march for the “lost” children in the coming weeks. The school operated from the end of the 19th century until it closed in 1975.

The Canadian government has said it would fund more research into unmarked graves in Indigenous communities across the country, but has also been criticized for not doing so before, as outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its 2015 report.

“My heart breaks for the Penelakut tribe and for all Indigenous communities across Canada. I only recognize these findings as the pain that families, survivors and all Indigenous peoples and communities already feel and that they confirm a truth they have known for a long time. members of the Penelakut tribe, we are here for you,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a virtual news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday.

The shocking abuse described by victims has been well documented for decades, but this latest discovery deepens a national reckoning over unmarked graves and why the deaths went undocumented for so long.

The Tk’emlúps of BC’s Secwépemc First Nation, which recently revealed it had found at least 215 unmarked graves on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, said it would release more details about its findings on Thursday.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported that more than 4,000 indigenous children in residential schools died from neglect or abuse.

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