The City of Kamloops says it is “heartbroken” following an announcement from Tk’emlups First Nations leaders saying the remains of 215 children had been found buried near the residential school on band land.
“This is tragic and absolutely devastating,” Mayor Ken Christian said Friday in a statement.
“We cannot begin to imagine the pain this discovery has caused, but we share your sorrow.”
Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir announced on Thursday that the band had confirmed the find via ground-penetrating radar.
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs also shared its condolences on Friday.
“There are no words to express the deep mourning that we feel as First Nations people, and as survivors, when we hear an announcement like this,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC president, said in a statement.
“These were children — all belonging to a family and community, and a nation — who were forcibly stolen from their homes under the authority of the Canadian government, and never returned.”
Casimir said the deaths are believed to have been undocumented. She said the graves had been previously unconfirmed but rumoured to exist.
The Kamloops Indian Residential School operated between 1890 and 1978.