Another 66 unidentified graves found near boarding schools for indigenous children in Canada

File – Tribute to the deceased indigenous children whose bodies were found at a public boarding school in Kamloops, Canada. – Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press v / DPA

An indigenous tribe in the southern Canadian province of British Columbia has announced the discovery of at least 66 unidentified graves near an Indian forced-assimilation boarding school, adding to other graves whose discovery shocked the North American country last year.

«It’s disheartening, but at the same time we’re finding the truth and piecing together the history and the legacy of what that school was and the amount of damage it caused,» said Tribal Chief Willie Sellars of the Williams Lake First Nation clan, as reported by CTV News.

The discovery follows an investigation last year that identified 93 possible burials found on 14 acres of surveyed land near the Saint Joseph Mission Residential School, a former boarding school for Indian children.

«Since then, we have continued to work with our technical team and contractors to search for more terrestrial anomalies,» Sellars said, stressing the importance of collecting the stories of their ancestors.

This boarding school was run by the Catholic Church from 1912 until the early 1970s, from when the building was converted into a resort and casino, with an adjacent golf course. According to the tribe, more than 100 of its members were forced to attend this school of assimilation.

These types of schools were established in the 19th and 20th centuries to forcibly assimilate Indian youth and were funded by the state and operated by religious organizations. The recent investigations and discovery of bodies have caused a national uproar, leading Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demand that the Catholic Church «take responsibility».

A commission of inquiry concluded in 2015 that many of the minors never returned to their communities and thus acknowledged a «cultural genocide,» while the Missing Children Project has so far identified more than 4,100 minors who died while in residential schools, many of whom were buried on the school grounds themselves.