The graves were found in a cemetery at the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan province, which borders the US to the south. The Catholic institution operated for almost a century from 1899 to 1997, as part of a Canadian school system created to assimilate indigenous children into Christian Euro-Canadian society.
Last month, the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years of age, were discovered at a similar burial site near former school grounds in the province of British Columbia.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations (FSIN) and the Cowessess First Nation, who revealed the disturbing finding, said ground-penetrating radar had been used to locate unmarked graves. At a news conference on Thursday, Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme said research teams had registered 751 “recorded hits” in their scans of the site, but that each grave could contain more than one set of remains, and further technical examinations would be carried out.
“There are oral stories that there are adults in this gravesite, as well,” Delorme added.
Earlier, local political leaders called on the Catholic Church to release its records relating to the schools and its students. “We need to work alongside the communities that continue to search the residential school sites and make sure we find all of these unmarked graves,” politician Ryan Meili said in a CBC interview.