'Breaks my heart': Another mass grave found at Indigenous school site

·2-min read

A second mass grave site has reportedly been uncovered in Canada.

A First Nation in southern Saskatchewan says it has discovered hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of another former residential school for Indigenous children.

A statement on Wednesday (local time) from the Cowessess First Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations, which represents Saskatchewan's First Nations, said that "the number of unmarked graves will be the most significantly substantial to date in Canada".

Last month the remains of 215 children, some as young as three, were found buried on the site of what was once Canada's largest Indigenous residential school near Kamloops, British Columbia.

Hundreds of unmarked graves have been found at the former Marieval Indian Residential School gravesite. Source: CBC
Hundreds more unmarked graves have been found at the former Marieval Indian Residential School gravesite. Source: CBC

Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme and Chief Bobby Cameron of the federation planned to hold a news conference in the coming days to provide more details about the new find at the Marieval Indian Residential School.

It operated from 1899 to 1997, about 140km east of Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan.

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their native languages.

Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.

The Canadian government apologised in parliament in 2008 and admitted that physical and sexual abuse in the schools was rampant. Many students recall being beaten for speaking their native languages; they also lost touch with their parents and customs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds

Indigenous leaders have cited that legacy of abuse and isolation as the root cause of epidemic rates of alcoholism and drug addiction on reservations.

Following the earlier discovery of a school grave site last month, the country's prime minister Justin Trudeau described it as heartbreaking.

The news "breaks my heart - it is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country's history," he said.

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