According to a report in the Regina LeaderPost, 751 unmarked graves were discovered at another Canadian Indian residential schools in the cemetery associated with the Marieval Indian Residential School on the Cowessess First Nation in the province of Saskatchewan.
The ground surveying equipment recorded hundreds of hits, with each one marked with a flag. These were all individual graves, and there is indication that some were originally marked with a headstone that was later removed. Not all the graves are of children, as there appear to be unmarked adult burials as well.
The Marieval Indian Residential School operated between 1899 and 1997 was initially run by the Roman Catholic Church, and was taken over by the government in 1968 and later by the Cowessess band in 1981.
This is on the heels of the discovery a few weeks earlier of 215 unmarked graves at an Indian Residential school in Kamloops, BC.
In 1876, the Canadian Federal government set up a system of Indian Residential Schools across Canada to educate and assimilate the Indian children into the dominant Canadian culture. This assimilation goals resulted in schools limiting the child’s contact with their families and bands.
It is estimated that 150,000 children went through the Indian Residential school system before the last school was closed in 1997.
With funding from the Federal government, the schools were operated by several Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic and Anglican church.
Though some schools were run much better than others, stories have emerged of horrific sexual and physical abuse at these schools, including students not having enough food to eat.
One health inspector described the food being fed students at Sechelt Residential school this way:
“The food is pig food, it is not fit for human beings to eat it. Some… apple core, rotten spuds and worms and rotten meat, and they force us to eat it that why some boys get sick,”
According to the National Post, most of these deaths were attributed to tuberculosis that swept through the schools during the early part of the last century. The students were particularly vulnerable because of the cramped and often unsanitary/unhealthy conditions at the schools. READ: Why so many children died at Indian Residential Schools
Rather than returning the bodies to the parents, the students were buried at the schools in unmarked graves. Often parents were not even told that their child had died.
RELATED: ‘This school is a jail house’: Documents reveal the horrors of Indian Residential Schools — In one 1935 letter, a father is told his food will be cut off until he surrenders his children at school