Catholic Church Urged To Apologise After Mass Grave Of Indigenous Children Found In Canada
The Catholic Church is being called on to issue an apology after a mass grave was found in Canada.
The remains of 215 Indigenous children have been discovered in the grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
The school was run by the Catholic Church ran from 1890 to 1969 and the Canadian government took over administration until the school was closed in 1978.
It's unclear how the hundreds of children died, however local media suggests historical residential schools had a high rate of child mortality because of accidents, fires, abuse, malnourishment and contagious diseases.
Ground-penetrating radar uncovered the mass burial site last week and there are fears more bodies could soon be found as teams carry out more tests in the area.
Work is now underway to repatriate the Tk'emlups te Secwépemc First Nation children.
Tk'emlups te Secwépemc First Nation Chief Rosanne Casimir said in a statement: "Some were as young as three years old.
"We sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc is the final resting place of these children."
They were among the thousands of Indigenous children who were taken from their homes during a federal government assimilation policy.
The Washington Post claims nearly 150,000 children in were made to attend residential schools between 1883 and 1996, where they were prevented from speaking their native tongue and participating in cultural practices.
In 2015, Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission found these schools contributed to 'cultural genocide'.
When the mass grave was discovered late last week, Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau said it was a 'painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country's history'.
Pressure is now on for the Catholic Church to own up to its role in running these residential schools where physical and sexual abuse was 'widespread'.
Mr Trudeau wrote to the Vatican back in 2018 and Pope Francis rejected the offer for an apology.
Bishop Lionel Gendron, who was president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote in an open letter to Canada's Indigenous people, stating: "The Holy Father is aware of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which he takes seriously.
"After carefully considering the request and extensive dialogue with the Bishops of Canada, he felt that he could not personally respond."
However, in light of the mass grave discovery, there has been a reply from a religious figure.
The Archbishop of Vancouver, J. Michael Miller said in a statement to CTV News: "[W]e pledge to do whatever we can to heal that suffering."