Hundreds of unmarked graves discovered at former residential school in Saskatchewan

Hundreds of unmarked graves discovered at former residential school in Saskatchewan”

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations described the finding of the graves as "tragic but not surprising".

The Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan says they have uncovered the "horrific and shocking discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves" at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School.

Such compulsory boarding schools were run by the Canadian government and religious authorities during the 19th and 20th Centuries with the aim of assimilating indigenous youth.

Chief Billy Morin says there are lingering open wounds, highlighted by the discovery at residential school sites recently, and calls Wednesday's announcement a good jumping-off point.

"I urge all Canadians to stand with First Nations in this extremely hard and emotional time". There, many faced neglect and physical and sexual abuse.

The archbishop said he has reached out to the "local Indigenous community" to establish what practical measures the church can put in place to help with reconciliation.

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It also identified at least 3,200 students who died at the schools during that time - a rate that was far higher than for students elsewhere in Canada - though it said that the figure was probably greater and merited further investigation.

The First Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations say the community and school site about 160 kilometres east of Regina are closed.

The discovery comes soon after another mass grave was unearthed by the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation at the former Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia last month.

Indigenous representatives are expected to reveal details of the findings at the former school during a press conference on Thursday morning, as well as to clarify the number of bodies. "As we heal, every Cowessess citizen has a family member in that gravesite".

He said First Nations children in northern Manitoba were often forcibly removed from their homes to go to residential schools, adding that many of them were never able to return to their families.

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