The discovery of another 751 unmarked graves, only weeks after a similar finding in British Columbia, caused a fresh awakening over Canada’s colonial past. First Nation leaders, in Saskatchewan, are now treating a now-defunct residential school as a “crime scene.” Many who were part of the residential school systems have spoken about the terrible conditions and pains experienced at the schools for years. The trauma cannot be understated. For the thousands of children who were missing, over multiple years, more than likely many sites like this exist across Canada.
There were hundreds of residential schools across Canada. As part of a scheme to incorporate First Nations children into Canadian society, they were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools beginning in the 19th century. The residential school system, which separated them from their families, denied them access to their indigenous languages. Many children were subjected to physical and sexual abuse. It was a form of cultural genocide, as noted by many.
Canada still has a long way to go, in terms of dealing with its horrific past. Discrimination, racism, and systematic injustice continue to pervade. Without a true reckoning with the past the gap between Canada and Indigenous peoples continues to deepen. Times have changed and Canada, as a society, may have change with it. We must find a true path to reconciliation. Canada will have to look in the mirror and deal with its history, rather than simply pointing fingers at other countries across the world.