Flowers, children’s shoes and other items rest at a memorial at the Eternal flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 1, 2021, in recognition of discovery of children’s remains at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP

Hundreds if not thousands of Indigenous children in Canada were sent off to boarding schools by force and most describe the experience with much horror and consternation: “We didn’t know where we were going. We didn’t know what was going to happen to us.”

Ripped from their families, the goal of the authorities at the time was to forcibly assimilate them into “Canadian culture.” But the fate of many of these children ended in death, their mass graves uncovered to this day, with many calling it genocide

An Indigenous community in Canada has announced the discovery of 93 potential unmarked graves on the site of a former residential school. This is the latest discovery of remains of scores of Indigenous children over the past year.

The Williams Lake First Nation announced that preliminary results of the first phase of a geophysical search at the St. Joseph’s Mission residential school uncovered 93 unmarked grave sites to date. All 93 radar scans at the St. Joseph’s mission display characteristics indicative of potential human burial sites.


Investigators used a range of geophysical techniques in their search, including ground penetrating radar. Only 14 out of approximately 1,161.4 acres have been searched so far.

Research has uncovered stories of murder, systemic torture, starvation, rape and sexual assault at the residential school. Children endured rotten food, fire hazards overcrowding, pests and illness; there were even reports of students trying to take their own lives. Authorities often chose not to investigate the atrocities.

Hundreds of unmarked graves have already been discovered at former residential school sites across Canada since May. It was announced that 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian residential school were uncovered.

That discovery fueled widespread calls for justice and accountability for the victims and survivors of the forced assimilation institutions, as well as demands that the Canadian government release all records pertaining to the facilities

Canada has forced more than 150,000 Indigenous children to attend institutions run by various churches, most notably the Roman Catholic Church. The children who were stripped of their languages and culture were also subjected to abuse, rape and malnutrition. Thousands are believed to have died while attending those schools.

Canada plans to reform its treatment of children of Indigenous families. The country promised more than $30 billion to fix the child welfare system, a system which has separated children from their parents.

Even today, the government continues to place many Indigenous children in foster care. Officially, children are separated due to poverty or substance abuse.

Census data shows that more than half of the children in Canadian foster homes are indigenous despite making up less than eight percent of the country’s child population.

Intergenerational trauma linked to St. Joseph’s Mission and other residential schools continues to be felt by Indigenous people across the country. (