OTTAWA — Canada’s former policy of forcibly removing aboriginal children from their families for schooling “can best be described as ‘cultural genocide.’ ”
That is the conclusion reached by the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission after six years of intensive research, including 6,750 interviews. The commission published a summary version on Tuesday of what will ultimately be a multivolume report, documenting widespread physical, cultural and sexual abuse at government-sponsored residential schools that Indian, Inuit and other indigenous children were forced to attend.
The schools, financed by the government but run largely by churches, were in operation for more than a century, from 1883 until the last one closed in 1998.
The commission documented that at least 3,201 students died while attending the schools, many because of mistreatment or neglect, in the first comprehensive tally of such deaths.