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Children’s Graves in Canadian Residential Schools Evoke the Massacres of Indigenous Australians | William Pengarte Tilmouth

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First Nations people in Australia mourn Canadian First Nations families as evidence increases of hundreds of deaths of children in residential schools.

We stand alongside our Canadian First Nations brothers and sisters in these horrific recent discoveries.

The massacres, forced assimilation and cultural genocide in Australia is something that this country has yet to deal with. My own experience of being taken away from my family and taken thousands of miles to a missionary home is part of that story.

The massacres, removal of children, poisonings and atrocities inflicted on the First Nations peoples of Australia were designed to exterminate us, to wipe out the entire race of my people on this planet.

I think about the day they took me every day. The process was a continuous act of colonization and assimilation and the goal of the process was similar to being buried alive. This is how I feel every day.

Last week it was announced that the Cowessess First Nation had discovered more than 700 unidentified graves at the Marieval Indian Residential School in the province of Saskatchewan.

A photo dated around 1910 of the medieval missionary church and its congregation alongside the medieval Indian residential school in Canada. Photo: Saskatchewan Provincial Archives / EPA

Added to the 215 graves recently discovered by the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia last month, and other graves at other sites, the number of graves is more than 1,000.

In the wake of colonization, many First Nations in Canada lost their lands and, since the late 1800s, First Nations children in many parts of Canada were forced to attend residential schools away from their families as part of a policy. assimilation.

The schools were often run by religious orders related to Christian churches. Children were prohibited from speaking in their First Nations languages ​​and other cultural practices, often through violence. Many children suffered abuse, including deprivation of food, physical violence, and sexual abuse.

A family walks through a field on June 26 where flags and solar lights mark the site where human remains were discovered in unmarked graves at the former site of the Indian Marieval residential school.
A family walks through a field on June 26 where flags and solar lights have been used to mark the site where human remains were discovered in unidentified graves at the former residential school for Martial Indians. Photographer: Geoff Robins / AFP / Getty Images

The experiences in Canada are repeated here in Australia. Until the truth is told in Australia about the colonization process across the continent, the reconciliation process will remain superficial. The country and its political leadership must urgently address these issues.

It is also a responsibility to call the Australian government and say: you are guilty of the same reluctance to do anything to help generations with the suffering of their past.

Open your eyes, your heart, and your opportunity to change the way we treat each other and how we treat our First Nations people, and honor our history, our truth.

As Elder Arrernte, my family and my community and I have a strong obligation to unite in times of discoveries like these. Be supportive, tell the truth, solemnly and mark the moment when this situation occurred.

It was the aspiration of politics and assimilation programs to allow us to die a thousand dead every day. Telling my story every time is a perpetual pain. There is no truce. There is no relief. There is no respect or reward.

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