169 potential graves found in former residential school in Alberta

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Around 169 potential graves were discovered on the grounds of a former residential school in Alberta, according to a media report.

The school, known as the St. Bernard Mission School and about 370 km northwest of Edmonton, was opened by the Roman Catholic Church in 1894 and operated until 1961, Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.

Previously, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had heard testimony from survivors about serious sexual and physical abuse, manual labour and the spread of illness at the school, which had a large population of Metis children.

The commission, which documented stories from survivors and issued a final report in 2015, has a record of 10 student deaths at St. Bernard.

An estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children attended residential schools in Canada.

The commission documented at least 4,100 deaths, the report said.

On September 30, 2021, Canada marked its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour lost children and survivors of the notorious indigenous residential school system in the country.

The day was made a federal statutory holiday by the government in June last year, as the truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended in its 94 calls to action in 2015.

It will be observed annually on September 30.

An estimated 150,000 indigenous children attended residential schools, which were designed to strip them of their culture and language, between the 1860s and 1996.

Despite the marking of September 30 as a national holiday, several provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, have chosen not to recognise it, meaning that schools and provincial offices in these provinces will remain open.

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