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Discovery of ‘hundreds of unmarked graves’ at former Saskatchewan residential school

A First Nation in southern Saskatchewan is to hold a virtual news conference Thursday morning about what it calls “the horrific and shocking discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves” at the site of a former residential school.

The Cowessess First Nation says the number of unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School will be the most substantial to date found in Canada.

The First Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations say the community and school site about 160 kilometres east of Regina are closed.

They are asking the media to be respectful of survivors, descendants and the communities affected by the discovery.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation says on its website that the Cowessess school was built in 1899 by Roman Catholic missionaries.

Perry Bellegarde, the chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a tweet late Wednesday that the finding at Cowessess is “absolutely tragic, but not surprising.”

“I urge all Canadians to stand with First Nations in this extremely difficult and emotional time.”

The federal government began funding the school in 1901 and took over its administration in 1969. The school was turned over to the Cowessess First Nation in 1987, and it was closed 10 years later.

Last month, the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation in British Columbia announced the discovery of what are believed to be the remains of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2021

READ MORE: Kamloops residential school never discussed by Vernon survivor

READ MORE: ‘Who owns the land?’ Finding residential school graves

READ MORE: 104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

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The Canadian Press

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