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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to visit Kamloops, B.C., today, where the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation announced it had found what are believed to be 215 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school last spring.
Since May, a number of First Nations have reported finding unmarked graves at former residential schools with the same ground-penetrating radar technology used in Kamloops, prompting calls for justice that have resonated across the world.
In June, Cowessess First Nation announced that it had discovered hundreds of unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School.
The First Nation, located 160 km east of Regina,
The Marieval Indian Residential School operated from 1899 to 1997.
Monday’s visit comes after Trudeau apologized to Tk’emlups Chief Rosanne Casimir earlier this month for not having accepted invitations to attend the nation’s event marking Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.
He faced backlash for travelling to Tofino, B.C., with his family on vacation instead of appearing at any in-person events to honour survivors of the state-sponsored residential institutions where Indigenous children were torn from their families and abused.
Trudeau had spoken with some survivors by telephone on Sept. 30 and attended an event on Parliament Hill the night before, and later said it was a “mistake” to travel.
Tk’emlups te Secwepemc issued a statement saying it was not interested in apologies that don’t lead to real change and action to support healing for residential school survivors and the revitalization of Indigenous culture and languages.
Tk’emlups te Secwepemc has called on Ottawa to fund a new healing centre for survivors and their families in the Kamloops area and for the full disclosure of government records related to children who attended the institution there.
With files from the Canadian Press