The remains of 215 missing children have been found buried at a former residential school for indigenous children in Canada, reports Reuters.
The indigenous children, some as young as three, were students at the school, which was once the largest in Canada’s residential school system.
The Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia was closed in 1978, according to the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Nation. Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir described the discovery as “unthinkable”.
The remains were found with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist. "We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify," Chief Rosanne Casimir said in a statement. "At this time, we have more questions than answers."
It found more than 4,100 children died while attending residential school. In 2008, the Canadian government formally apologized for the system. The deaths of these 215 children are believed to not have been included in that figure and appear to have been undocumented until the discovery.
Diseases, such as tuberculosis, neglect, child abuse and malnourishment were some of the main causes of death.
Canada's residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families, constituted "cultural genocide," a six-year investigation into the now-defunct system found in 2015.
The report documented horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition and other atrocities suffered by many of the 150,000 children who attended the schools.
Kamloops Indian Residential School that operated from 1890 to 1969, was administered by the federal government from 1969 to 1978.
Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau wrote in a tweet that the news "breaks my heart—it is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country's history."
“I am thinking about everyone affected by this distressing news. We are here for you,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Friday,” Trudeau wrote.
“The news that remains were found at the former Kamloops residential school breaks my heart – it is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history. I am thinking about everyone affected by this distressing news. We are here for you,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Friday.
In a statement, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee called finding such grave sites "urgent work" that "refreshes the grief and loss for all First Nations in British Columbia."