Trudeau will attend the Kamloops ceremony marking the anniversary of the discovery of unmarked graves

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

The prime minister will be in Kamloops, BC, on Monday to attend a special ceremony on the anniversary of the discovery of hundreds of suspicious unmarked graves on the grounds of a former residential school.

Details of Justin Trudeau’s participation in the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Le Escwicwéy̓ (The Disappeared) memorial were released Sunday night.

Trudeau is expected to attend the all-day memorial and meet with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir and council members.

He is also expected to speak to the media at the event.

A monument is displayed outside the Kamloops Indian Residential School on June 4, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Monday marks a year since a BC First Nation confirmed the discovery of possible unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, prompting a deeper investigation of the site as well as more searches around the world. country.

Preliminary information obtained via ground-penetrating radar in May 2021 showed there could be as many as 215 unmarked children’s burial sites near the school, though experts later said they suspected the number could be much higher since that only a small part of the site was inspected.

The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) has said, based on death records, that around 4,100 children died in residential schools in Canada, but the true total is much higher.

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a large number of indigenous children who were forcibly sent to residential schools never returned home.

Le Estcwicwéy̓ (The Disappeared)

The Kamloops Indian Residential School operated from 1890 to 1969, when the federal government took over administration from the Catholic Church to operate it as a residence for a day school, until it closed in 1978.

As many as 500 children from First Nations communities in BC and beyond are reported to have been enrolled in school at any given time, according to the NCTR.

Monday’s event kicks off at 5 a.m. PT at the Tk̓emlúps Powwow Arbor with a sunrise ceremony, followed by prayers and song throughout the morning. Singing, dancing and partying will complete the afternoon, with a closing prayer around 7 pm It is open to the public.

In October, Trudeau visited the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Nation and apologized in person for not responding to an invitation to join the community on the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day on September 30.

Trudeau is pictured with Tk’emlups Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir during a meeting in front of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, BC on October 18, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Since the findings, the federal government has committed more than $320 million for residential school site searches and support for survivors and their families.

In January 2022, the government reached an agreement with the NCTR to release thousands of documents on residential schools.

Pope Francis confirmed his plans to visit Canada in July and, while he will not stop in Kamloops, he is expected to formally apologize to survivors and their families on behalf of the church.


Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential school and those who are affected by the latest reports.

A National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line has been established to provide support to residential school survivors and other affected individuals. People can access crisis and emotional referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.


Do you have information on unmarked graves, children who never came home, or residential school staff and operations? Email your suggestions to CBC’s new indigenous-led team investigating residential schools: WhereAre They@cbc.ca.

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