HUNDREDS OF bodies have been discovered in unmarked graves on the grounds of a former Catholic-run residential school for indigenous children in Canada.
The remains were discovered on the site of the former residential school in Saskatchewan by investigators on Wednesday, The Associated Press reports via The Guardian.
The discovery comes a month after the bodies of 215 children were found at another Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia.
The number of remains found this week are believed to be substantially more than the hundreds found last month, with a statement from the Cowesses First Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations describing the number as "the most significantly substantial to date in Canada".
The Marieveal Indian residential school operated between 1899 to 1997, and was founded by the Catholic church, Canadian outlet The National reports.
These schools, many run by Catholic and other Christian churches, were set up to force Canada's Indigenous peoples to assimilate into modern Canadian culture, and sexual and physical abuse of children-- 150,000 of whom passed through the institutions-- were rampant.
Children were forced to convert to Christian faiths and were forbidden to speak their native language, facing brutal beatings if they did so. The institutions operated until the 1970s.
The two discoveries in Canada contain chilling parallels to Ireland's own Catholic Industrial schools and Mother and Baby Homes, where the bodies of hundreds of children and babies were found in unmarked graves.
The most notorious case saw the remains of up to 800 children found buried in a septic tank on the grounds of a former Mother & Baby home in Tuam, County Galway, but a report released earlier this year indicates that up to 9,000 babies died in the just 18 homes investigated across Ireland.
Earlier this week, two Catholic churches were burned in western Canada in suspicious circumstances: the Sacred Heart church and the St Gregory's church, both made largely of wood, were burned to the ground on Indigenous Peoples Day, a month after the first discovery of 215 children's bodies were discovered at the first Catholic-run school.
While police have not yet indicated that the destruction of the two Catholic churches was arson, a fire chief said the team had identified liquid accelerant, such as gasoline, on the burnt remains of St Gregory's Catholic church.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police sergeant Jason Bayda said that while they are aware of "recent events", they will not speculate on a motive and will instead "allow the facts and evidence to direct ... investigative action".
The Penticton Indian Band said in a statement that both they and the Osoyoos bands felt "disbelief and anger" at the burning of the churches, which "provided service to members who sought comfort and solace in the church".
"We understand the grief and rage felt by our people across the country after the discovery of unmarked graves at government/Catholic-run former residential schools," they added.
"This is a symptom of the intergenerational trauma our survivors and descendants are experiencing, however we have supports to help deal with these emotions in a more healing way."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed anger earlier this month that Pope Francis and the Catholic church had refused to apologise for their role in industrial schools.
Mr Trudeau, who is himself a Catholic, said he is "deeply disappointed by the position that the Catholic church has taken now and over the past many years."
A press conference on the newest discovery is due to take place later today.