Hundreds of protesters in the Canadian capital on Saturday called for an investigation into an indigenous children’s boarding school system, as outrage escalated after the discovery of hundreds of anonymous graves at several of the facilities.
Until the 1990s, some 150,000 Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis youth were forcibly enrolled in schools, where students were physically and sexually assaulted by principals and teachers who stripped them of their culture and language.
“Indigenous peoples need truth and justice,” MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq wrote on Instagram.
“This means a special prosecutor and a fully funded independent investigation, with the presence of international observers, into Canada’s crimes against indigenous peoples,” she added, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Justice. Justice David Lametti “to stop looking for excuses” and to launch a probe.
Protesters gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa after two left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) lawmakers called for a protest.
In early July, the NDP called on the Trudeau government to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation into the country’s painful history of residential schools for Indigenous children.
“People were shocked at the number of graves discovered… These are not accidents, these are not tragedies, they represent a policy aimed at destroying a people,” NDP lawmaker Charlie Angus told broadcaster public CBC.
Since the end of May, more than 1,000 anonymous graves have been discovered near former residential schools, discoveries that have scandalized the country.
Thousands of people have died in schools, and many have been victims of physical and sexual abuse, according to a commission of inquiry which concluded that the Canadian government had engaged in “cultural genocide”.
More than 4,000 have died of illness and neglect in schools, according to a commission of inquiry which concluded that Canada had committed “cultural genocide.”
© 2021 AFP