The federal government has restricted the air space over a former residential school in Kamloops where the bodies of 215 children were found last week.
The decision was made “out of respect for the privacy of the survivors and families,” Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced in a tweet Friday.
“We will continue to work closely with the Indigenous communities affected and respect their mourning period,” he wrote.
During the prime minister’s weekly vaccine press conference he said he’s “deeply disappointed” by the position the Catholic Church has taken “now and over the past many years.”
“We’re still seeing resistance from the Church, possibly from the Church in Canada,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be a really important moment to make it clear that we expect the Church to step up and take responsibility for its role in this and be there to help in the grieving and the healing, including with records, as necessary.”
Between 1831 and 1996, Canada’s residential school system separated nearly 150,000 children from their homes by force. Many were subjected to abuse, rape and malnutrition in what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2015 called “cultural genocide.”
Run by the government and church groups, most of them Catholic, the schools’ stated aim was to assimilate indigenous children.
According to TRC reports, the students of these residential schools were often subject to physical and sexual abuse by staff. They were malnourished, underfed, and made to live in poor housing conditions that threatened their safety. Infectious diseases like tuberculosis and influenza were also rampant among students, leading to many deaths.
Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience can access this 24-hour, toll-free and confidential National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.