Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged the Catholic Church to “take responsibility” and publish documents on indigenous residential schools under his direction, following the discovery of the remains of 215 children in nameless graves.
Trudeau also warned that his government is ready to take “tough measures”, including any legal action, to obtain the required documents from the families of the victims if the church fails to comply.
The discovery of the remains at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia caused a wave of shock and outrage in Canada. The school was one of the many colleges established a century ago to forcibly assimilate the indigenous peoples of the country.
“As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed with the position the Catholic Church has taken now and in recent years,” Trudeau said in a press conference. The premier also recalled a trip to the Vatican in May 2017 during which he asked Pope Francis for a formal apology for student abuse, as well as access to church records to help account for more than 4,100 students believed to be dead. due to illness or malnutrition. “We are still seeing resistance from the Church,” Trudeau said.
The Kamloops school, where the anonymous graves were discovered last week, was run by the Catholic Church on behalf of the government from 1890 to 1969. About 150,000 native young people in total, including Inuit and Metis, were enrolled in 139 of these residential schools, where students have been physically abused by principals and teachers who have deprived them of their culture and language.