Trudeau visits Indigenous community reeling from unmarked graves

Canadian prime minister’s visit comes after he ignored previous invitation on Truth and Reconciliation Day. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited an Indigenous community in British Columbia, following the discovery earlier this year of more than 200 unmarked graves of children who died at the nearby church-run Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Seated beside Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation Chief Rosanne Casimir on Monday, Trudeau said he wanted to “work together” with Indigenous communities on addressing historical wrongs. He did not announce new funding for residential school survivors or other specific initiatives.

The discovery of the remains of some 215 children, some as young as three, buried under the former school touched off a firestorm of anger and a national campaign dubbed “Every Child Matters” .

“Words do matter,” Trudeau said. “An apology recognizing the harms that were caused is the first step … but it’s not just about words, it’s about actions.”

More than a dozen other Indigenous communities in Canada began searching for mass graves using ground-penetrating radar, following the grim revelations in Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in May, revealing thousands of remains.

“No words can express the level of grief and sorrow that the confirmation of unmarked graves of missing children from the Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) and other residential schools have brought to Indigenous People across the country,” Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, located in central British Columbia in western Canada, said in a statement earlier this month.                                         

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