Last week, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, which was in operation from 1890 to 1969. While the Government of Canada funded these schools, they were administered and managed by Christian churches. As the calls for an apology from the Pope and remuneration from Ottawa grow louder, there is much debate about who should accept responsibility for the atrocities Indigenous children suffered in these establishments.
A recent online poll conducted by Leger in collaboration with the Canadian press found that more than half of Canadians feel that the Church is to blame, a thought that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed to echo last week.
According to Leger, 66% of 1,539 Canadians surveyed think the Church should bear the responsibility for the tragedies committed at residential schools, while 34% think the Government of Canada should be held responsible.
When asked if they think that the remains of the 215 Indigenous children discovered at a previous residential school site in Kamloops is only the tip of the iceberg, 80% of respondents said they are expecting more tragedies to be uncovered. Eighty per cent of those polled also said that as Canadians, we should feel ashamed that these types of residential schools ever existed. While 77% of those polled agreed that the government should order all the grounds surrounding former residential schools in Canada to be systematically searched through digs to find out if what happened in Kamloops also happened in other places.
Around 62% also felt that it is up to the Indigenous families and communities to decide if investigations and searches should be carried out, not the government.