A Canadian Indigenous group said Wednesday a search using ground-penetrating radar has found 182 human remains in unmarked graves at a site near a former Catholic Church-run residential school that housed Indigenous children taken from their families. The latest discovery of graves near Cranbrook, British Columbia follows reports of similar findings at two other such church-run schools, one of more than 600 unmarked graves and another of 215 bodies, the AP reports. The Lower Kootenay Band said in a news release that it began using the technology last year to search the site close to the former St. Eugene’s Mission School, which was operated by the Catholic Church from 1912 until the early 1970s. It said the search found the remains in unmarked graves, some about 3 feet deep.
It's believed the remains are those of people from the bands of the Ktunaxa nation, which includes the Lower Kootenay Band, and other neighboring First Nation communities. Chief Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band called the discovery "deeply personal" since he had relatives attend the school. "Let’s call this for what it is," Louie told the CBC. "It's a mass murder of Indigenous people," he said, calling for priests and nuns involved to be located and "held accountable for their part in this attempt of genocide of an Indigenous people." Prior to news of the most recent finding, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has asked that the national flag on the Peace Tower remain at half-mast for Canada Day on Thursday to honor the Indigenous children who died in residential schools. (Catholic churches on Indigenous land have been going up in flames.)