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Emotions pour as Canada mourns 215 slain pupils



By Kingsley Ugwu

It was a moment of solemnity in Kahnawake, Quebec as children made their way to St Francis Xavier Church yesterday to view the hundreds of children’s shoes placed in front of the church, in commemoration of the mass grave of 215 indigenous children found at Kamloops Residential School in British Columbian Canada.
The anniversary, which was embarked by Kahnawake Mohawk Territory community in Quebec left local children in shock.

Canada flew its flags at half-mast Sunday, in remembrance of the unfortunate incident that happened at the boarding school set up more than a century ago to assimilate indigenous peoples in the country.

“To honour the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops residential school and all Indigenous children who never made it home, the survivors, and their families, I have asked that the Peace Tower flag (in Ottawa) and flags on all federal buildings be flown at half-mast,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter.
Several municipalities, including the economic metropolis Toronto, announced they would also lower their flags.

The discovery of the children’s remains, some as young as three, sparked strong emotions throughout Canada, particularly in the indigenous communities.

National Light gathered that a ground-penetrating radar was used by expert to confirm the remains of the students who attended the school near Kamloops, British Columbia.

It will be recalled that the Kamloops Indian Residential School was the largest of 139 boarding schools set up in the late 19th century, with up to 500 students registered and attending at any one time.

It was operated by the Catholic Church on behalf of the Canadian government from 1890 to 1969.

Unverified report has it that some 150,000 Indian and mixed-bred Canadian youngsters were forcibly enrolled in these schools, where students were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers who stripped them of their original culture and language.

The Canadian government had formally apologised in 2008 for what the commission later termed a cultural genocide as part of a Can$1.9 billion (US$1.6 billion) settlement with former students.

“I’ve said before that the residential schools was a genocide of our people. Here’s just another glowing example of that genocide in practice: undocumented deaths of children,” the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, said yesterday while briefing the media.

Meanwhile, more efforts are still at top level to find the families of the victims and examine the sites of other residential schools, according to Belegarde.

He said the federal government had a responsibility to make sure that these resources are in place to get the answers.”

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