Our elders told us what hellholes these institutions were: Places of violence, disease, religious indoctrination and cultural genocide.
A few weeks ago, Canadians were struck with the announcement that 215 unmarked graves had been discovered at the Kamloops residential school in British Columbia. It set off a wave of shock across the nation, but for many first Nations people it was a foreboding of what would come.
The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission pointed out that while the official count of children who died at Canadian residential schools was around 3,000, the true amount would be double or more.
Across the country, federal and provincial governments have stepped up and made funds available for First Nations to get access to ground-penetrating radar to search the old school sites for human remains.
The first Saskatchewan institution to reveal its dead was the Cowessess First Nation, with 751 unmarked graves at the site of the old Marieval institution.
Our elders have told us what hellholes these institutions were. I hesitate to call them schools because education was so lacking. They were places of violence, disease, religious indoctrination and cultural genocide.