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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Pope Francis not just 215 but at least 3213 deaths of indigenous children in 150 schools


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As the world mourns the shocking news of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, including some as young as three, found in a mass grave on the grounds of a former residential school, a research, and analysis report conducted by the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation of the Registers of Confirmed Deaths as on November 18, 2014, indicates that at least 3213 deaths of indigenous children in 150 schools in Canada.

In a note to media on the discovery of the remain of 215 indigenous children, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kukpi7, Chief, Rosanne Casimir confirmed the unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

She said in the press note, “We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” stated Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir. “Some were as young as three years old. We sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is the final resting place of these children.”

A report titled ‘Where are the Children buried? by Dr. Scott Hamilton of the Dept. of Anthropology, Lakehead University Thunder Bay, Ontario, states, “TRC research indicates that at least 3,213 children are reported to have died. This is a conservative estimate in light of the sporadic record-keeping and poor document survival, and the early stage of research into a vast (and still growing) archive. Most of these children died far from home, and often without their families being adequately informed of the circumstances of death or the place of burial.”


The discovery of the remains of 215 children has renewed calls for the Catholic Church and its Pontiff Pope Francis to apologize for its role in Canada’s policy of the 19th and 20th centuries that saw Indigenous children removed from families to attend state-funded residential schools. Many of the almost 150,000 children attending the schools from 1883 to 1996 to “assimilate” into white Canadian society encountered neglect and abuse.

The Kamloops Indian Residential School was run by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969 before the Canadian government took over its administration. However, in the past Roman Catholic Church has declined to apologize for its role in what Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission found in 2015 to be cultural genocide.

Some sections of the Catholic Church in Canada admitted to the sexual crimes on indigenous children: an Apology to the First Nations of Canada by the Oblate Conference of Canada Reverend Doug Crosby, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, President of the Oblate Conference of Canada on behalf of the 1200 Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate living and ministering in Canada, July 24, 1991.

“The recent criticisms of Indian residential schools and the exposure of instances of physical and sexual abuse within these schools call for such an apology. We wish to apologize in a very particular way for the instances of physical and sexual abuse that occurred in those schools. We reiterate that the bigger issue of abuse was the existence of the schools themselves but we wish to publicly acknowledge that there were instances of individual physical and sexual abuse.”

In an Apology to the First Nations of Canada by the Missionary Oblates of Canada, Ken Forster, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Provincial of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Lacombe Canada, March 29th, 2014 also admits to abuse of indigenous children:

“The residential environment made children very vulnerable. We wish to apologize for failing to protect the children in our care, and for the times when we placed the reputation of the institution above the well-being of the students. The significant number of incidents of abuse has shocked society and the church. These acts are inexcusable, intolerable, and a profound betrayal of trust. We deeply, and very specifically, apologize to every victim of such abuse.”

Statement of Reconciliation, The Jesuits in English Canada. Delivered by Father Winston Rye, S.J., at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Québec National Event, Montreal, April 25, 2013

“Through litigation and lawsuits, we learned about harsh conditions, poor food, brutal punishment, and horrible incidents of sexual molestation. You turned to the courts because the Jesuits turned away from you. As educators, we have been shocked by stories of bullying, inadequate clothing, strapping, and beatings for minor offenses. Our school harbored individuals who molested or abused students. Bedwetters were tormented by older students and staff alike. The food was not fit for the needs of growing boys and girls.”



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