What to know about Canada’s residential schools and the unmarked graves found nearby

People from the Mosakahiken Cree Nation hug in front of a memorial at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., on June 23. (Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images)

TORONTO — The national reckoning began with two grim announcements from different First Nations communities, just months apart: Ground-penetrating radar had uncovered evidence of hundreds of unmarked graves near a former residential school for Indigenous children.

The two discoveries in British Columbia and Saskatchewan in 2021 left the country reeling. As months passed, similar announcements from other Indigenous groups followed, spurring many Canadians to renew pleas to take down monuments to the leaders responsible for the school system and calls for more accountability and action from the federal government and the Catholic Church.

Among the Indigenous communities that had long told stories about the children who went missing and their unmarked graves, there has been fury and anger, but not shock — “absolutely tragic, but not surprising,” as one Indigenous leader put it.