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First nation chief says Catholic Church to share documents on Canadian unmarked gravesite

Last month, following a scan with ground-penetrating radar, Cowessess First Nation uncovered 751 unmarked graves on the site of a former residential school where indigenous children were forcibly sent to be stripped of their heritage and assimilated into European Canadian society.

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Washington: The Roman Catholic Church and its representatives in Canada have assured an indigenous community that they will provide documentation to help identify the remains of 751 victims located in an unmarked gravesite, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said.
Last month, following a scan with ground-penetrating radar, Cowessess First Nation uncovered 751 unmarked graves on the site of a former residential school where indigenous children were forcibly sent to be stripped of their heritage and assimilated into European Canadian society.
“We have been in communication with the Archdiocese of Canada, the regional archdiocese. We have also been in contact with the Roman Catholic Church, and every one of them has informed us they stand beside us and will be helping with ensuring we get our information,” Delorme said in an interview with Sputnik.
Delorme confirmed that the current tally of unmarked gravesites at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School remains at 751. Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the post-secondary institution which undertook the study had previously told the First Nation that the margin of error is 10%.
The chief of Cowessess First Nation, which is located two hours east of Regina, the capital of the province of Saskatchewan, also shed light on the next steps in the fact-finding mission.
According to Delorme, a research team has been assembled to ascribe identities to each of the unmarked graves and in the next phase of the mission, Cowessess First Nation hopes to identify victims buried at another gravesite.
During a press briefing on June 24, Delorme suggested there are likely additional unmarked gravesites, as only those baptized by the Roman Catholic were buried at the site under investigation, while remaining victims were buried at a different location.
Delorme said the community is aware of the general vicinity of the remaining burial sites, however, this second phase of the investigation remains “a ways away” from commencement.
According to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, released in 2015, roughly 150,000 aboriginal children were forcibly assimilated through the residential schools from 1883 to 1998, in a process equated to “cultural genocide.”
The report discovered that around 3,200 died in the schools, with the greatest number of deaths taking place before 1940. Schools also had high rates of tuberculosis and other health incidences in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with death rates remaining high until the 1950s.

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