EXPLAINER: Why some schools in Canada have unmarked graves

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Leaders of Indigenous groups in Canada say investigators have found more than 600 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school for Indigenous children, which follows the discovery of 215 bodies at another school last month.

The new discovery was at the Marieval Indian Residential School, which operated from 1899 to 1997 where the Cowessess First Nation is now located, about 85 miles (135 kilometers) east of Regina, the capital of the province of Saskatchewan.

Ground-penetrating radar registered 751 ’’hits,″ indicating at least 600 bodies were buried, said Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess. Some and perhaps most are from over a century ago. The gravesite is believed to hold the bodies of children and adults, and even people from outside the community who attended church there.

Perry Bellegarde, chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said it is not unusual to find such graves at former residential schools but is always a devastating discovery that reopens old wounds about the forced assimilation of native children at those often-abusive institutions.

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