KAMLOOPS, British Columbia (AP) — The remains of 215 children, some as young as 3 years old, have been found buried on the site of what was once Canada's largest Indigenous residential school.
First Nations Chief Rosanne Casimir says the remains were confirmed last weekend with the help of ground-penetrating radar.
And more bodies may remain to be found.
An earlier report by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed harsh mistreatment inflicted on Indigenous children at the institutions.
It said at least 3,200 children had died amid abuse and neglect, and it said it had reports of at least 51 deaths at the Kamloops school alone between 1915 and 1963.
"We will never forget them - our thoughts continue to be with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and all Indigenous communities during this difficult time," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.
According to the Associated Press, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in British Columbia Chief Rosanne Casimir said the remains of 215 children were confirmed at the Kamloops Indian Residential School this month.
Chief Casimir added that some of the children were as young as 3.
"This is a painful reminder of what took place at residential schools and the impacts still felt today. We cannot hide from this. Residential schools were a reality - a tragedy that existed in our country - and we have to own up to it," Trudeau said in a series of tweets. "We all have a role to play in dismantling systemic inequalities and discrimination - it starts with acknowledging the truth about these past wrongs. It also starts with learning about and honoring the heritage, cultures, and traditions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples."
From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools.
Trudeau asked that flags on all federal buildings be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims, the Associated Press reported.