“66% of Canadians think the Church should bear the responsibility for the tragedies committed at residential schools, while 34% think the Government of Canada should be held responsible,” the Leger study found.
Additionally, the poll found that 80 percent of Canadians believe that the discovery in Kamloops is “tip of the iceberg” and similar sites will uncovered throughout the country. The vast majority of Canadians – 77 percent – also say that the federal government should conduct similar studies at all of the former residential school sites, but efforts should be indigenous-led.
Calls have grown from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet for formal papal apology for the Church’s role in the residential school system in the aftermath of the discovery of the remains of more than 215 indigenous children at a former residential school in the province of British Columbia.
On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his “sorrow” at the grisly discovery, however, top Canadian officials, including Trudeau, have said that this does not go far enough and continue to press for a formal acknowledgment.
Kamloops was one of the largest schools in Canada and operated from the late 19th century to the late 1970s as part of the residential school system, which placed indigenous children in state-sanctioned boarding schools where they were to be culturally assimilated.
According to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission report released in 2015, roughly 150,000 aboriginal children were forcibly assimilated through the residential schools from 1883 to 1998.
The report discovered that around 3,200 died in the schools, with the greatest number of deaths taking place before 1940. Schools also had high rates of tuberculosis and other health incidences in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with death rates remaining high until the 1950s.