The remains of 215 children, some as young as three, have been found in British Columbia at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, a discovery Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called heartbreaking.
“We call for a thorough and impartial investigation into all cases where crimes have been committed against indigenous peoples, in particular children, in order to bring those responsible to justice and provide full reparation to the victims,” Jiang Duan, senior official of the Chinese mission. at the UN in Geneva, said the Human Rights Council.
He read the statement on behalf of countries including Russia, Belarus, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela. Canada subsequently issued a joint statement on behalf of more than 40 countries calling for access to China’s Xinjiang region to investigate allegations of mass detention of Uyghur Muslims.
Canada’s residential school system, which forcibly separated Indigenous children from their families, amounted to “cultural genocide,” a six-year investigation into the now defunct system discovered in 2015.
Leslie Norton, Ambassador of Canada, told council that what happened at the Kamloops school was “neither an exception nor an isolated incident” and that Indigenous children had suffered serious injustices and abuse during decades.
“As Prime Minister Trudeau recently said, we also recognize that Indigenous peoples still face racism, discrimination and systemic injustices,” she said, adding that it was a matter of resolving problems and support communities.
The discovery of the children’s remains in Canada’s westernmost province reopened lingering wounds for First Nations, Métis and Inuit, especially residential school survivors and their families.
Canada formally apologized for its residential school system in 2008, and in a class action settlement with survivors, more than $ 2.68 billion (C $ 3.23 billion) in compensation were paid to more than 26,700 claimants, according to a report released earlier this year.
Trudeau, who campaigned on the promise to revive Ottawa’s relations with Indigenous peoples, said earlier this month that the mass grave uncovered at Kamloops Residential School was “a painful reminder of this dark and shameful chapter of the history of our country ”.