182 human remains discovered in anonymous graves near the old boarding school


By Rebekah Riess, CNN

Research has revealed 182 human remains in unmarked graves at the site of another residential school in British Columbia.

The Lower Kootenay Band, a member band of the Ktunaxa Nation, announced that remains were found at the site of the former St. Eugene Mission School near the town of Cranbrook.

This announcement comes after hundreds of anonymous graves believed to contain the remains of Indigenous children were recently discovered at the sites of two other former residential schools in Canada and many First Nations communities that have called for a stop to Canada Day celebrations Thursday.

“The remains of these 182 souls are believed to be from member bands of the Ktunaxa Nation, neighboring First Nations communities and the Aqam community,” the Lower Kootenay Band said in a statement on Wednesday.

Research by the Aqam community using ground-penetrating radar showed some of the human remains were buried in shallow graves just 3 to 4 feet deep. Aqam is a member community of the Ktunaxa Nation.

Approximately 100 members of the Lower Kootenay Band were to attend St. Eugene Mission School. The boarding school was operated by the Roman Catholic Church from 1912 until the early 1970s, the statement said. Indigenous children aged 7 to 15 have been mandated by the Canadian government to attend schools.

“The Lower Kootenay Band is still in the very early stages of receiving information from the findings reports, but will provide updates over time,” the statement said. “The Lower Kootenay Band has living survivors of St. Eugene Mission School and calls on the general public to respect our privacy at this time. “

Discovery of human remains at former residential school sites comes as Canadian authorities investigate multiple fires that destroyed four Catholic churches on native lands over the past week.

These are the latest in a series of recent events affecting indigenous communities across the country. Churches have been destroyed as Canada grapples with its history of systemic abuse of Indigenous communities.

CNN has contacted the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdiocese of Vancouver for comment on the fires.

Although authorities have not discussed a possible motive for the fires, the Chief and Council of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band said in a statement on the fires on Saturday that they understood the “heartache and rage” being felt. by the inhabitants of the Indian country as a result of the discovery. the remains of hundreds of children on the grounds of a former school in the southern interior of British Columbia.

“This is a symptom of the intergenerational trauma our survivors and intergenerational descendants are going through, there are supports to help deal with these emotions in a more healing way,” said leaders of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band.

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CNN’s Nicole Chavez and Harmeet Kaur contributed to this report.

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