Aboriginals in BC claimed to have found more than 160 unmarked graves
Warning: This story contains some details that may be painful for readers.
The Penela Court tribe of the southern Gulf Islands in British Columbia said they found more than 160 “undocumented and unmarked” graves in the area, which was once the site of a Cooper Island boarding school.
The tribe informed neighboring Aboriginal communities of the discovery in a newsletter published online Monday morning.
The notice said: “We invite you to join our work to raise awareness of the Cooper Island Industrial School and confirm that there are more than 160 undocumented and unmarked graves on our land and foreshore.”
No further details were provided. The tribe did not specify how the tomb was discovered, whether the remains of the child are suspected of being buried there, or whether a ground penetrating radar was used.
Officials did not respond to multiple interview requests.
The school operated from the 1890s to the 1970s on Penelakut Island, which was formerly known as Kuper Island, one of the southern bay islands.
On Thursday, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation near Kamloops, British Columbia, is expected to disclose more details of the burial remains of some 215 children it recently found on the grounds of another former boarding school. .
A series of similar grim announcements were subsequently issued related to former boarding schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Penelakut Chief Joan Brown encouraged boarding school survivors to recover in the newsletter.
“Genocide and human rights violations are insurmountable. Healing is a continuous process, sometimes it goes well, sometimes we lose more people because of too much burden,” Brown said.
She invited community members to participate in the children’s parade in Chemainus, British Columbia on August 2 to commemorate the students who were forced to attend Kuper Island boarding school and to move forward on the road of recovery and reconciliation.
Anyone affected by the boarding school experience and those affected by the latest report can receive support.
A nationwide Indian boarding school crisis hotline has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can call the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419 for emotional and crisis referral services.