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Residential Schools

Residential schools refer to a system of 139+ schools operated by the Canadian government and churches to assimilate Indigenous children. From 1863-1996, over 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and placed in residential schools. Students were forbidden from acknowledging their heritage and culture, and speaking their own languages and were forced to assimilate. Many of these children were subjected to physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse at the hands of residential school staff. At least 4,100 children died while attending residential schools.

On May 27th, 2021,  Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced that remains of 215 Indigenous children were found buried on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Chief Casimir described the discovery as an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented.” The remains were found using a “ground-penetrating radar during a survey of the school.” Some of the children were as young as three years old.

The school operated from 1890-1969 before the Canadian government took over administration from the Catholic Church and closed it in 1978. It was the largest school in the residential system and had as many as 500 students enrolled in the 1950s.

“What took place in residential schools amounts to nothing short of cultural genocide — a systematic and concerted attempt to extinguish the spirit of Aboriginal peoples.” – Justice Murray Sinclair. 

Many survivors of residential schools continue to be deeply affected by the horrific experiences they were forced to endure. The Indian Residential Schools Survival Society strives to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth, development, and healing through culturally-based values and guiding principles for Survivors, Families, and Communities.  Click the “Donate” button to learn more about the IRSSS and  support the organization with a monetary donation. 




First Nations Studies Program at the University of British Columbia:

Globe and Mail:…

Government of Canada:

Indian Residential School Survivors Society:

Legacy of Hope:


  • JaydensThoughts
    Posted May 19, 2024 at 6:27 pm

    Thank you for this information. The most chilling part is the quote about the deaths of indigenous children being “spoken about but never documented”. It makes me wonder, who has this information? And, what incentives, outside of self-preservation, exist in order for these individuals to keep this information? And lastly, what can we do to bring this information to the mainstream to gain some sort of justice for these individuals and their families?

    • Avatar photo
      Post Author
      Posted May 19, 2024 at 7:59 pm

      Hey @jaydensthoughts – thanks for the thoughtful questions. It remains unclear who has this information, but several First Nations across Canada are working through extensive recovery efforts to try to identify the bodies of children found in unmarked and mass graves.

      Indigenous families and survivors of residential schools in Canada have been fighting for years through a class-action lawsuit to receive some sort of compensation for the harm and suffering inflicted upon them by the government and the church. Last month, it was announced that some survivors would receive a mere $10,000 as “compensation.” I personally find that to be atrocious and firmly believe that more must be done to hold the government accountable for the years of genocide it perpetuated against Indigenous people across this country.

      For more reading on it and a potential path forward, highly recommend you check out the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Calls to Action 71-78 directly pertain to missing children and burial information and data and record collection.

  • John24
    Posted May 20, 2024 at 7:20 pm

    Such a vile injustice and tragedy that is too often ignored and overlooked. A day of remembrance is a good start, but certainly not enough

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