More unmarked graves near Canadian school

The western Canadian Penelakut Tribe says it has found more than 160 unmarked graves near a former indigenous boarding school, Canada’s fourth discovery of this kind in recent weeks.

In the last month, discoveries of more than 1,000 graves prompted a nationwide reckoning over Canada’s painful past and its policies of forced assimilation toward indigenous communities.

“We are at another point in time where we must face the trauma because of these acts of genocide,” said Penelakut Tribe Chief Joan Brown in a July 8 statement confirming “160+ undocumented and unmarked graves” newly-uncovered on the British Columbia reservation.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Bob Chamberlin, former vice president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. Chamberlin estimates dozens of other unmarked graves have not yet been found.

“My heart breaks for the Penelakut Tribe and for all the indigenous communities across the country,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Tuesday.

“We cannot bring back those who were lost, but we can and we will continue to tell the truth, just like we will continue to work in partnership with indigenous peoples to fight discrimination and systemic racism with real, concrete actions,” Trudeau added.

The indigenous boarding school on Penelakut Island, west of Vancouver, enrolled indigenous students from the end of the 19th century to 1975.


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