New Delhi: On July 13, Canada found its third mass grave of children with 182 bodies near a former Catholic residential school for indigenous children. The graves were found at the St. Eugene’s Mission School — operated by the Catholic Church from 1912 till the 1970s.
With this discovery, more than 1,000 graves of indigenous children have been unearthed in Canada, sparking global outrage against the actions of the Catholic church. Some of the bodies have been of children as young as three.
The second mass grave of around 751 bodies was found in June, on the site of the Marieval Indian residential school.
In May, the first mass grave with 215 children was found at one of Canada’s largest residential schools — the Kamloops Indian Residential School–funded by the Canadian government and run by the Catholic church.
These findings are believed to be the tip of the iceberg as indigenous people in Canada are investigating a cultural genocide perpetrated by the State and the Catholic schools. Despite the developed status of the country, the indigenous people still live in deprived conditions.
MD, Development Interlinks International, Dr Ajith Chandran who has conducted research on the First Nations communities in Canada, tells India Narrative that the conditions of the native people are far from better. Chandran says: “While there are changes over the years, systemic issues continue to exist in the treatment of indigenous people. There are disproportionate numbers of indigenous people who are homicide victims and unemployed. They are also more likely to leave the education system early, live in crowded areas and have health issues, specifically mental health”.
British newspaper The Guardian says: “Between 1867 and 1996, the Canadian state abducted more than 150,000 Indigenous children from their parents and forced them into these schools as part of a campaign of forced assimilation. Thousands were subject to physical, emotional and sexual abuse”.
With Canada’s native people making strenuous efforts to dig out the truth, will they get justice with their lands taken away and identity suppressed? They constitute just five per cent of the current population.
Chandran says that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in 2008 aimed to understand the Church-run residential school system in Canada and its impact on students and families. “The Commission released its findings in 2015. While this helped bring out voluminous information, I believe the reconciliation is yet to happen in full earnest”.
He adds that the native people are also fighting for their lands. “The land treaty processes have been underway since the early 1990s. These are slow processes, and only a few First Nations have had the benefit as of now. In general, indigenous people have difficulty managing their traditional lands as their powers are confined to a minuscule area designated as the Indian reserve”, says Chandran.
Various communities in the liberal democratic governments in both the US and Canada are questioning their governments about the past histories of cultural genocide, usurpation of native lands, discrimination against ‘others’ and atrocities committed on the native populations by the Christian settlers. The Black Lives Matter movement in the US and Europe in 2019 held a mirror to their governments and powerful dominant communities.
By Rahul Kumar
(The content is being carried under an IANS arrangement with indianarrative.com)