After 751 additional unmarked graves of indigenous children were found at the site of a former Roman Catholic-run residential school used to assimilate indigenous people, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implored Pope Francis to visit Canada and issue an apology on behalf of the church.
"I have spoken personally directly with His Holiness Pope Francis to press upon him how important it is not just that he makes an apology but that he makes an apology to indigenous Canadians on Canadian soil," Trudeau told reporters on Friday according to The Christian Post.
"I know that the Catholic Church leadership is looking and very actively engaged in what next steps can be taken," Trudeau added.
According to Reuters, last Thursday, Cowessess First Nation reported that 751 unmarked graves were found near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan, Canada. The discovery of the additional graves brings the total number of indigenous children found in mass graves on former residential school properties to 966.
As Christian Headlines reported at the beginning of June, in late May, the remains of 215 children, some as young as 3-years-old, were discovered in a mass grave in British Columbia, Canada.
The mass grave was found in the area where Kamloops Indian Residential School stood from 1890 to 1978.
According to the BBC, starting in the late 1800s, the residential schools, which were run by the government and religious authorities, worked to forcibly assimilate indigenous youth.
Kamloops Indian Residential School was reportedly "the largest in the residential system." The school opened in 1890 and was run by the Roman Catholic church until 1969 when the central government took over the school's administration.
At its peak in the 1950s, some 500 students were enrolled in the school.
The Los Angeles Times reports that an estimated 6,000 young indigenous people died while attending Kamloops Indian Residential School. Many students were also reportedly physically and verbally abused.
"I recognize these findings only deepen the pain that families, survivors and all Indigenous peoples and communities are already feeling, and that they reaffirm a truth that they have long known," Trudeau said in a statement following the recent discovery, the CBC reports.
"The hurt and the trauma that you feel is Canada's responsibility to bear, and the government will continue to provide Indigenous communities across the country with the funding and resources they need to bring these terrible wrongs to light. While we cannot bring back those who were lost, we can — and we will — tell the truth of these injustices, and we will forever honor their memory," he concluded.
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Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.