By Vatican News staff writer
“On behalf of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference, I express our deep sorrow for the heartbreaking loss of the children of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation,” said Archbishop Richard Gagnon, president of the CCCB in a statement on Monday.
The remains of 215 children, some as young as 3, were found on the site of what used to be Canada’s largest indigenous residential school last week.
The Kamloops Indian Residential school operated from 1890 to 1969 mostly under Catholic administration. The federal government took over the administration of the school in 1969 and ran it till 1978 when it was closed.
“The news of the recent discovery is deeply disturbing,” the statement continues. “It brings to the forefront the trauma in many communities across this country.”
Archbishop Gagnon went on to highlight that the grim tragedy deeply affects in particular indigenous communities “with whom many people now stand in solidarity.”
In this regard, “honoring the dignity of these little ones who lost their lives requires that the truth be brought to light.”
The archbishop also reiterated the Canadian Bishops’ commitment to walk side by side with the indigenous people “in the present, in order to seek for greater healing and reconciliation for the future.”
“We lift up our prayers to the Lord for the children who have lost their lives and we commit ourselves to ongoing accompaniment of indigenous families and communities.”
In a separate statement, Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver expressed his “deep sadness” at the grim discovery of the children’s remains at the residential school.
He noted that “the passage of time does not erase the suffering that touches the indigenous communities affected” and pledged to do “whatever we can to heal that suffering.”