Trudeau will attend Kamloops ceremony marking anniversary of unmarked graves discovery

WARNING: This story contains sad details.

The Prime Minister will be in Kamloops, BC, on Monday to attend a special ceremony on the anniversary of the discovery of hundreds of suspected unmarked graves on the grounds of a former residential school.

Details of Justin Trudeau’s participation in the memorial service for Tk’emlùs te Secwépemc Le Estcwicwéy̓ (Missing Person) were announced on Sunday evening.

Trudeau is expected to attend the day-long memorial service, and meet with Tk’emlùs te Secwépemc Kúkpi7 (Leader) Rosanne Casimir and council members.

He is also expected to speak to the media at the event.

Image of a memorial outside Kamloops Indian Residential School on June 4, 2021. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

Monday marked a year since the First Nation BC confirmed the discovery of potential unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, triggering an investigation. deeper into the location as well as more searches across the country.

Preliminary information obtained via ground-penetrating radar in May 2021 suggested there could be as many as 215 unmarked child burial sites near schools, although experts later said they doubted the number. could be much higher because only a small part of the area is surveyed.

The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) has said based on death records that approximately 4,100 children have died in residential schools in Canada, but the actual total is much higher.

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a large number of Indigenous children who were forcibly sent to residential schools were never returned home.

Le Estcwicwéy̓ (The Lost One)

Kamloops Indian Boarding School operated from 1890 to 1969, when the federal government took over from the Catholic Church to operate it as a residence for a day school, until closed in 1978.

According to NCTR, up to 500 children from First Nations communities across BC and beyond are enrolled in school at any given time.

Monday’s event begins at 5 a.m. Pacific Time at Tk̓emlùs Powwow Arbor with a sunrise ceremony followed by prayers and singing throughout the morning. Song, dance and a party will end in the afternoon, with prayer ending around 7pm. It is open to the public.

In October, Trudeau visited the National Tk’emlùs te Secwe̓pemc and personally apologized for not responding to the invitation to join the community on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.

Trudeau is pictured with Tk’emlups Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir during a gathering outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, BC, on October 18, 2021. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

Since the discovery, the federal government has committed more than $320 million to residential school site searches and support for survivors and their families.

In January 2022, the government signed an agreement with NCTR to deliver thousands of residential school documents.

Pope Francis has confirmed plans to visit Canada in July, and although he won’t stop at Kamloops, he is expected to issue a formal apology on behalf of the church to survivors and families. their.

Support is available to anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential schools and who are triggered by the latest reports.

A national Indian Neighborhood School Crisis Line has been established to assist neighborhood survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis helpline: 1-866-925-4419.

Do you have information on unmarked graves, children who never came home or residential school staff and activities? Email your tips to the new CBC Native team investigating residential schools:

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