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Following the discovery of the remains of 215 undocumented children, some as young as 3, under a former residential school in British Columbia, calls are mounting for leaders and staff of residential schools to be punished. Starting in the 1800s, residential schools were funded by the Canadian government and operated by churches to forcibly assimilate an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children. More than half of all schools were Catholic-run. Sweeping physical and sexual abuses, disease, and malnutrition were rampant, and up to 15,000 children, many undocumented, were killed nationwide. The last school only closed its doors in the mid-1990s. “To this day, I’ve, I’ve always wanted to go back and burn the place, and I never did,” a survivor who had been subjected to sexual abuse told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated residential schools in Canada and their ongoing legacy. Between 2007 and 2015, the TRC identified fewer than 50 convictions for abuse committed at residential schools — compared to more than 38,000 reports of sexual or severe physical abuse.

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