Native children were removed from their homes and made to attend Indian residential schools.
OTTAWA — In what may be one of Canada’s darkest chapters, the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission has disclosed more than 4,000 Native children died while they lived at residential schools.
Sadly, many of the students’ deaths occurred without so much as notification to their parents. Many were buried in unmarked graves.
Indian residential schools were to Canada what Indian boarding schools were to the United States, which were operated in Canada for over a century.
While the preliminary figures released place the death toll of more than 4,000, the actual number is expected to increase when more information is compiled and the Commission releases a full report in future months.
“Aboriginal kids’ lives just didn’t seem as worthy as non-aboriginal kids,” Kimberly Murray, executive director of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said in an interview with a Canadian publication.
Besides the tragic deaths, Indian residential schools faced decades of allegations of physical and sexual abuse and neglect suffered by the Indian students.
The Indian Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established officially on June 2, 2008 with a mission to provide former students and others affected by the Indian residential school legacy with an opportunity to share their individual experiences in a safe and culturally appropriate manner.
Additionally, the Commission complete a report that include:
- A comprehensive historical record on the policies and operations of residential schools and
- Complete a publicly accessible report that will include recommendations to the Government of Canada concerning the Indian Residential School system and its legacy.
The Commission is comprised of members of First Nations and non-Native individuals. Its mandate ends this year with an event planned in Ottawa, Ontario.