A shocking discovery
Many never knew of the existence of residential schools in Canada
The first remains were found in May in Kamloops
Another 751 graves were found in June in Saskatchewan
Prime Minister Trudeau:
182 more graves were found just before Canada Day
Canadians didn't feel like celebrating the country
Bob Chamberlin:
Indigenous people of Canada were not surprised by the discovery of the graves
Deceased children weren't returned to their families to save money
Parents were often weren't notified of their child's passing
The United, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches have apologized
The Catholic Church has refused an apology so far
The Pope's meeting with Indigenous leaders in December was postponed due to COVID
The church also owes the First Nations $25 million in compensation
How can we help?
Donate to organizations that support First Nations people
Educate yourself and your children
A call to action
Call for the removal of monuments/murals that glorify cultural genocide
Indigenous organizations call us to work together to make amends
2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(1/22)
A shocking discovery

Thousands of unmarked graves were discovered in 2021 at the sites of former Indigenous residential schools. Canada and the world were shocked. However, there will surely be more discovered in the months and years to come.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(2/22)
Many never knew of the existence of residential schools in Canada

The Indigenous people of Canada carry with them the traumatic past of being put through the Canadian residential school system. However, most non-native Canadians rarely had any idea about their beloved country's dark secret.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(3/22)
The first remains were found in May in Kamloops

In May of 2021, all that changed when 215 graves were found at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Canadians were horrified to hear of this discovery. Little did they know, much more was to come.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(4/22)
Another 751 graves were found in June in Saskatchewan

Following the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nations discovery in Kamloops, another 751 unmarked graves were discovered. Found at the former Marieval residential school by the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan in mid-June. Undeniable proof that this serious issue will not be going away anytime soon.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(5/22)
Prime Minister Trudeau: "We can pledge every day to fix it in the present"

Canadians were once again outraged and horrified, and on June 25th, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for Canada's deplorable treatment of First Nations people. PM Trudeau said, "To the members of the Cowessess community and Treaty Four communities, we are sorry. It was something that we cannot undo in the past, but we can pledge ourselves every day to fix it in the present and into the future."

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(6/22)
182 more graves were found just before Canada Day

The horrors of Canada's past didn't just stop there. On June 30th, the day before Canada Day, another discovery was made by the Ktunaxa Nation (Lower Kootenay Band.) At the former St. Eugene's Mission Residential School near Cranbrook, B.C., 182 shallow unmarked graves were discovered. St. Eugene's was run by the Catholic Church and operated from 1912 to 1970.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(7/22)
Canadians didn't feel like celebrating the country

These discoveries dissolved many Canadians desire to celebrate Canada Day. In the nation's capital of Ottawa, on Parliament Hill, the Canadian flag flew at half-mast as it did in many communities across the country. Canadians across the land have been mourning.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(8/22)
Bob Chamberlin: "the very tip of the iceburg"

Bob Chamberlin, former vice president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs spoke about the matter in a television interview, saying, "I believe we are at the very tip of the iceberg."

(Photo: dgsolidarity-Youtube)

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(9/22)
Indigenous people of Canada were not surprised by the discovery of the graves

Erica Violet Lee, a nêhiyaw from Saskatoon and a member of Thunderchild First Nation, wrote an article about the discovery of the graves from the perspective of an Indigenous person for The Guardian. Lee spoke about how for the Indigenous people of Canada, the discovery of these graves hasn't been as shocking at all.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(10/22)
"...we knew our family members did not simply 'disappear'"

Lee wrote, "We'd all heard the stories, long before they started to receive this summer's 24/7 coverage by every news station in Canada. Long before ground-penetrating radars confirmed the presence of unmarked graves, we knew that our missing family members did not simply "disappear" nor attempt and fail to run away from residential schools, despite what we were told by missionaries and government officials."

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(11/22)
Deceased children weren't returned to their families to save money

In the article, Lee also mentioned the final report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) in 2015. The report estimated that 4,100 First Nations students died while in the "care" of Canadian residential schools. The report indicated that costs were a concern at residential schools, so many children were buried in unmarked graves at school cemeteries instead of returning the child's body to their home communities.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(12/22)
Parents were often weren't notified of their child's passing

More often than not, parents were not notified. The reason for the death of these children is cited as being due to sickness. However, First Nations author Erica Violet Lee notes that claiming the deaths were caused by illness was "an excuse commonly used to justify intentional genocides of Indigenous nations, predicated on our supposed biological inferiority."

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(13/22)
The United, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches have apologized

Both the Canadian government and religious institutions running the schools have a lot to answer for. The residential schools were run by the United, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches. Apologies have been issued by the United, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches; however, the Catholic church has resisted apologizing for their heavy involvement with the schools.

Pictured: Part of the apology issued by the United Church of Canada. The full apology is available on the the church's website.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(14/22)
The Catholic Church has refused an apology so far

It is estimated that the Catholic Church ran around 60% of residential schools in Canada. PM Trudeau and First Nations leaders have been calling on an official apology from Pope Francis. On June 29th, 2021, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) released a statement saying that Canadian Indigenous leaders will meet with the Pope before the year's end on December 17th and 20th.

Pictured: Pope John Paul the II kisses a First Nations child's head in the '80s.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(15/22)
The Pope's meeting with Indigenous leaders in December was postponed due to COVID

The CCCB said, "Pope Francis is deeply committed to hearing directly from Indigenous Peoples, expressing his heartfelt closeness, addressing the impact of colonization and the role of the Church in the residential school system, in the hopes of responding to the suffering of Indigenous Peoples and the ongoing effects of intergenerational trauma."

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(16/22)
The church also owes the First Nations $25 million in compensation

However, an apology simply isn't enough, especially when the wealth of the Catholic church is taken into consideration. Bobby Cameron, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations chief, released a statement to the media on June 30th. Cameron said that the Catholic Church should also compensate First Nations residential school survivors as it has already promised. Thus far, the church has only provided $34,650 of the $25 million Canadian dollars promised in compensation.

(Photo: CBCNews)

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(17/22)
How can we help?

In light of these horrific discoveries, many Canadians are asking themselves a lot of tough questions. Such as "How did we not learn about this tragedy before now?" and "What can I do to help?"

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(18/22)
Donate to organizations that support First Nations people

Regarding what Canadians can do to help, there are many possibilities, but three options seem accessible to all. First of all, Canadians can donate to organizations that aim to support the Indigenous people of Canada. For example the 'Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society' accepts donations through their webpage.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(19/22)
Educate yourself and your children

Secondly, Canadians can and should educate themselves and their children about the realities faced by Indigenous people in Canada. Canadian actor Dan Levy shared a video about a free course from the University of Alberta that Canadians can take to educate themselves. Many of us were never taught the true story of how the Indigenous were treated throughout history.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(20/22)
A call to action

Finally, with more information under our belts many organization are asking that Canadians band together to speak up and demand justice for the First Nations people. They advocate that racist, colonialist monuments or murals be removed. For many it is simply unacceptable to glorify and celebrate the acts of cultural genocide against First Nations people.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(21/22)
Call for the removal of monuments/murals that glorify cultural genocide

One such example is a mural in Pembroke, Ontario, which glorifies the cultural genocide committed by the church and the Canadian government. There is currently a 'Change' petition to have the mural removed, which requires more signatures. However, this is just one example. Activists say that Canadians must speak out against all monuments of a similar nature that glorify cultural genocide.

2021 in Review: The world was shocked by mass graves found in Canada
(22/22)
Indigenous organizations call us to work together to make amends

Many Indigenous organizations say that although these actions might seem small if everyone tries to contribute, it assists in making amends for the horrors the Indigenous people in Canada have faced for far too long.

Más para ti