36 deaths identified at Kamloops Residential School
In the 49-year period reviewed by the Missing Children’s Research group, 36 deaths were identified to have happened to students at the Kamloops Residential School.
However, said research manager Alex Maas, her group expects that number is significantly higher than the true figure.
Backing this belief, Maas said, was the fact 153 deaths were identified to have happened at the Kuper Island Residential School in the South Gulf Islands during the same years.
Across B.C., the project found 500 deaths in 18 residential schools during that timeframe, Maas said.
Shane Gottfriedson, chief of the Tk’emlups Indian Band, said that even if one child had died in a public school during that time period it would have led to calls for an investigation.
Gottfriedson noted many of the deaths have been attributed to tuberculosis and yet no alarm bells ran during that timeframe about the health conditions of the schools.
The group was established to find answers to questions raised in the House of Commons about deaths and disappearances in the residential schools.
In the six years since it was established, the group has identified 3,000 student deaths across the country with ongoing research trying to determine more precise numbers.
Gottfriedson said having the information become public now will further help Canadians understand the plight of the First Nations and the injustices that occurred in the schools.
Gottfriedson said he believes a deeper investigation is required into why children died or fled the schools.
He added he welcomes the information being shared now because so many of the records kept at residential schools were incomplete or inaccurate.
“What’s being disclosed is something we’ve been asking for for a long period of time,” he said.