At least 300 deaths at residential schools in northern Canada says researcher

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From the late 19th century onwards, aboriginal children in Canada were forced to attend government-run residential schools, where they suffered emotional, physical and sometimes sexual abuse at the hands of church teachers (Library & Archives Canada/PA-042133)A Truth and Reconciliation Commission researcher says she has accounted for 300 deaths at residential schools across Canada’s North.

Alex Maass, a research manager with the Missing Children Project, said after researching cemetery records and wading through a million documents they can now prove one out of every 50 children forced to attend Indian Residential Schools never made it home.

However, she says the records are still incomplete and in some cases they’ve been able to show they are not accurate.

She said the official records don’t account for all of the children’s bodies in the schools’ cemeteries, and added the problem is evident at Northern schools like the one at Fort Providence in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

“There’s a very large cemetery associated with the Fort Providence school that is estimated to have close to 300 individuals in it — most of them are children,” she said.

“It doesn’t match up. What we see on the ground doesn’t match with the documentation.”

Maass said most of the children died from disease, however she said there were also many accidental deaths attributed to drownings, fires or other accidents.

Related Link:

A Lost Heritage: Canada’s Residential Schools, CBC News

 

For more northern stories from CBC News, click here

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