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Trudeau Calls For “Concrete Action” Following Mass Grave Discovery of Indigenous Students

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed the country’s sorrow after the remains of 215 indigenous children were found in an old boarding school for forced assimilation and promised “concrete action” to support indigenous communities.

“As a father, I can not imagine how it would feel to have my children taken away from me,” Trudeau told a news conference. “And as Prime Minister, I am appalled by the shameful policy of stealing indigenous children from their communities,” he said.

– Think of their communities they have never seen before. “Think of their hopes, their dreams, their potential, everything they would achieve, everything they would become,” he said. “It was all taken away,” Trudeau said.

They are students from the Indian boarding school Camloops in British Columbia, which was closed in 1978, and their remains were found using special radar. Some of the children were only three years old, and the cause of their death is still unknown.

– Unfortunately, this is not an exception or an isolated incident. We will not hide from that. We must acknowledge the truth. Residential schools were a reality – a tragedy that existed here in our country, and we must accept it, Trudeau said.

The case sparked calls for an investigation into all former residential schools. Institutions run by the government or the Church were intended for the forced assimilation of indigenous children.

“A thorough investigation of all former residential schools could lead to a deeper truth about the genocide of our people,” said Perry Belegard, head of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).

For decades, thousands of children were taken from their families and placed in boarding schools, where they had to learn the tradition of European colonialists in order to forget their own culture. Violence and sexual abuse were common in these schools.

– We managed to confirm what our community already knew, said the leader of the indigenous community Rozana Kazimir, on the occasion of the discovery of the bodies of children. – At this moment, we have more questions than answers.

A six-year investigation into Canada’s boarding school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families, revealed in 2015 that the system, which had since been scrapped, was a “cultural genocide”.

The report documents the horrific physical violence, malnutrition and other crimes to which many of the 150,000 children who attended those schools were exposed. The schools were run mainly by Christian churches on behalf of the state government, from the 1840s to the 1990s.

The report reveals that more than 4,100 children died during their stay in such schools. It is believed that 215 children whose remains were found buried under what was once Canada’s largest such school are not part of that statistic and that their deaths remained unrecorded until the discovery.

In 2008, the Canadian government formally apologized for the system. The indigenous community said it expected preliminary results from the investigation by mid-June.

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