Thanks to modern technology, a gruesome potential scene has been uncovered in the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community, located in British Columbia, Canada, in the form of mass graves of what experts believe to be some 200 schoolchildren at the former site of a Canadian residential Indian school.
According to the Toronto Star, late last year, an anthropologist, Sarah Beaulieu, came across the potential mass burial site using ground-penetrating radar and other high-tech equipment. She estimates that there are roughly 200 unmarked graves, however, that number could rise given that she only covered a relatively small section of land.
Rosanne Casimir, chief of the Kamloops Indian Band who broke the news after the Beaulieu made the potential discovery, said it shocked the entire community, even leaving Beaulieu weeping as her equipment detected grave after grave.
“It had a real impact on her. I just hope she’s looked after,” he said. “I can’t imagine. I probably wouldn’t have been able to complete it,” said Wayne Christian, tribal chief of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.
The site of the burials was at the remains of a Roman Catholic Church-run school that was reportedly one of the largest residential schools in Canada at the time.
Indian leaders, who now fear there could be similar mass graves at the sites of a number of other residential schools across Canada, are calling for accountability.
“If the perpetrators are still alive, they need to be held accountable for closure for our people. So what if they’re old? It doesn’t matter,” Christian said. “If they’re not alive, there’s got to be a process to name names.”
Adding mystery to what’s already an obvious tragedy is the fact that nobody really knows how the children died, or why they were killed. As the story gains more attention, local leaders hope it will draw in forensic experts and donations for equipment and resources necessary to solve what could be one of the country’s most disturbing crimes.
“Concrete measures are needed — now,” said Cliff Arnouse, chief of the Adams Lake Indian Band east of Kamloops.