OTTAWA: After the remains of 215 indigenous children were discovered at an ancient boarding school, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced Canada’s condolences while promising “concrete action” in support of indigenous people.
“As a father, I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my kids Taken away from me,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau added “As Prime Minister, I am shocked by the heinous policy of kidnapping indigenous children from their communities.”
“Think the people in their towns who never saw them again. Think of their hopes, dreams and their potential as well as all they could have accomplished and become,” he stated. “Everything was taken away.”
Since taking office in 2015, Trudeau has made reconciliation with Canada’s nearly 1.7 million indigenous people a top priority for his government and he said he would meet with his ministers to discuss “next and further things we need to do to support (residential school) survivors and the community.”
“An important element of learning the truth” is, he added, excavating school burial sites across Canada, as many have urged.
“Canada will be there to support indigenous communities as we understand this pain and provide opportunity for families and communities to recover,” said the minister.
With up to 500 students enrolled and attending at any given time, the Kamloops Indian Residential School was the largest of 139 boarding schools established in the late 19th century to integrate Canada’s indigenous peoples.
It was run on behalf of the Canadian government by the Catholic church from 1890 to 1969, before Ottawa took over administration and closed it a decade later.
Only 50 children died at the school, according to official records, where a principal reportedly appealed for more cash to properly feed students.
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