Identities, bodies of children who died in residential schools may be lost forever
By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
The identities and bodies of many First Nations children who died in Indian residential schools may be lost forever, says the Ontario Coroner’s Office which has been working with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to sift through one of the darkest periods in Canadian history to find the dead.
“Hundreds, if not thousands” of Indigenous children who went to residential schools died while in the care of the churches and Canadian government, according to Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Many of their parents were never told of the deaths and the bodies buried in unmarked graves across the country.
The Ontario Coroner’s Office has been working with the TRC since January to uncover any archival records that could be use to trace children who never made it home. The TRC has taken on the task of identifying and finding the graves of the children who disappeared.
The search for records initially screened about 250,000 files which were narrowed down to 5,000 that were individually examined. The results produced 120 cases that could lead to the identification of children who died in residential schools.
“We expect that there will be some cases which will result either in the identification of a child that was that was no identified before or to a file that the TRC has a lot more information on,” said David Eden, regional supervising coroner for operations who has been working with the TRC to find records of these missing children.
Many of the children died from disease, some as the result of punishments, others as a result accidents and even murder. In some cases, their deaths were never recorded.