The bodies of at least 600 people have been found in unmarked graves at a former school for indigenous children in Saskatchewan, Canada, the second such discovery in the country over the past month.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said Wednesday a search of the former Marieval Indian Residential School on Cowessess First Nation in southern Saskatchewan found the remains on the property.
Last month, the Tk’emlupste Secwépemc First Nation announced that the remains of 215 children had been buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme said there were more than 300 remains found at the school’s location, calling it a “horrific and shocking discovery,” according to the Regina Leader-Post.
The Marieval Indian Residential School was part of a system that placed Indigenous children in boarding schools across Canada. Indigenous leaders have long complained that many children were never returned to their parents and were given little, if any, information about what happened to them.
The disappearances have long been part of Canadian indigenous oral histories, but the discoveries offer confirmation for the stories that have passed through generations.
“There’s no denying this: All of the stories told by our survivors are true,” Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby said, according to a leading news daily. “This is what the Catholic Church in Canada and the government of Canada of the day forced on our children.”
Meanwhile, the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia was ran by the government from 1890 to 1969 after taking over administration from the Catholic Church to operate it as a day school residence. It eventually closed in 1978.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said it’s now assisting First Nations in searching more than 20 former residential school sites in Saskatchewan for similar signs of unmarked graves.
“Today, all of Saskatchewan mourns for those who were discovered buried in unmarked graves near the former Marieval Indian Residential School site,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said in a Facebook post.