An Unmarked Grave

Voices of the Present and Future has recently been reading about the 751 unmarked graves found at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan. If you haven’t been following the news, please continue reading this post as this discovery just comes weeks after the remains of 215 children were found at a similar residential school in British Columbia.

A statement was given by Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. He said he was “terribly saddened” by the discovery in Saskatchewan. He also said it was “a shameful reminder of the systematic racism, descrimination, and injustice that indigenous peoples have faced.”

Between the years of 1863 and 1998, there were more than 150,000 indigenous children that were taken from their families and placed in these schools throughout Canada. Often, these children were not allowed to speak their language or to practice their culture. Many being abused and mistreated.

A former residential school student, Florence Sparvier, spoke at a press conference stating, ” They made us believe we didn’t have souls. They were putting us down as people, so we learned to not like who we were.”

A commission that was launched in 2008 to document the impacts of this system, found that large numbers of indigenous children never returned to their home communities. The practice amounted to cultural genocide. In 2008, the Canadian government formally apologized for the system, although this does not bring back the lives that were lost or to quote the words used, “the souls” that were lost.

Chief Delorme said there may have once been markers for the graves but the Roman Catholic Church, which oversaw the cemetary, may have removed them. It is not yet determined if all of these unmarked graves are those of children.

There was an estimated 6,000 children who died while attending these schools. The students were often housed in poorly built, poorly heated, and unsanitary facilities. There was also physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the school authorities which led other children to run away.

I urge you to take a moment of silence for the lives of those lost and prayers that identities will be provided for the unmarked graves that have been found.

Thank you for following Voices of the Present and Future today.

A Child Army

Voices, Past, Present, and Future would like to take you on a deep dive into the Most Wanted Fugitive list. While some are too evil and dumb or just plain greedy to get away with their crimes against humanity, others have managed to vanish and evade capture for years.

Let’s take a look at Joseph Kony for instance. Despite the short documenary done on him in 2012, he is still out there. Kony is a sadistic Ugandan Warlord who not only forced children into his guerrilla war against the Ugandan Government, he was also known for chopping off their limbs to maintain discipline.

Koni was born into a middle class family. Both parents farmers. He dropped out of school at a young age and formed the Lord’s Resistance Army in 1987. Koni declared a military offensive in Uganda that was aimed at overthrowing the Ugandan government to establish a theoretic state based on the dominion theology. Because of his terror activities, he was banished from Uganda and shifted his attention to South Sudan. Koni described himself as a freedom fighter, struggling for a Christian Uganda.

Koni, being one of Africa’s most notorious warlords, is currently one of the MOST wanted African militants.

For a man seeking and claiming to be a freedom fighter, I don’t know how he could explain the accusations against him as being Christian at all.

Koni has been accused of ordering the abduction of children to become child soldiers and sex slaves. Approximately 66,000 children became his soldiers, and 2 million people were displaced internally from 1996 to 2009 by his forces.

Koni was indicted in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but managed to evade capture. In 2013, there were reports that he was no longer in good health. In April of 2017, he was still at large but his forces was reportedly down to approximately 100 soldiers, from the estimated high of 3,000. The hunt for Koni ended believing he was no longer a significant security risk to Uganda.

Dominic Ongwen had served as a key member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and was one of Koni’s senior aids in the organization. He had been kidnapped by Koni as a child and became a soldier in the LRA. He rose through the organization’s heirarchy. He finally surrendered himself in January 2015, which became a major blow to Koni’s group. A spokesperson for the Ugandan Army stated that, ” this puts the LRA in the mostvulnerable position” and that, “It is only Koni left standing”.

In February 2021, Ongwen was convicted by the International Criminal Court of 61 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

For me, until reading about Koni, I didn’t know this was going on. I’m not one who stays glued to the news channel and knows eveything that is happening in other countries. But, hopefully, through this post and other posts in the future, it will shine a light on things that other people are having to go through children especially.

I watch my new grandbaby in her little swing, smiling in her sleep and it saddens me that other children around the world are forced to fight and endure such crimes against them.

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