More disclosure and investigation was encouraged regarding potential housing school graves


Citizens’ groups associated with scholars are seeking evidence-based perspectives on burial in residential schools, as well as more disclosure and more research.

On January 25, Williams Lake First Nations, located inside central British Columbia, announced that 93 cemeteries had been found on the premises of a residential school that operated there from 1891 to 1981. Whitney Spearing, who led the investigation, said: Using the Ground Penetration Radar (GPR), please note that 50 of the potential graves were not associated with the graveyard on the school grounds.

In early January, CBC’s Fifth Estate dedicated a 50-minute program to allegations of crime by a former student at Kamloops Indian Residential School in south-central British Columbia. Allegations included underground sexual abuse, children being burned in a furnace, orchards in holes dug by children, and even children hanging in barns on the premises.

Brian Giesbrecht, a former judge in Manitoba and senior researcher at the Frontier Public Policy Center, said he believes that much news coverage on this issue is more sensational than evidence-driven.

“Many of the people there actually believe in these stories. If this is the cause, there is no evidence that the body is there and nothing stands up in court,” Giesbrecht said. Describes 215 possible tombs detected in Kamloops schools using GPR.

Tom Flanagan, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Calgary, states that claims, stories, and verbal explanations are not enough.

“I think all these people are honest. I don’t doubt their honesty for a moment. I think they actually started to believe these stories. But for the rest of us, it’s real. I think you have the right to see the evidence, but we don’t have that evidence at this time, “Flanagan said in an interview.

On May 27, 2021, Chief Rosanne Casimir announced that Sarah Beaulieu, a session lecturer in anthropology and sociology at the University of the Fraser Valley, discovered 215 soil anomalies that could indicate human bodies. .. When Beaulieu announced her findings at a press conference on July 15, 2021, she emphasized that their existence could only be confirmed by excavating the bodies, but other “supporting evidence” were them. Suggested that was there.

“The orchard supports a typical Christian burial tradition, young ribs and teeth found at the same site, and finally, but most importantly, the oral history of ritual knowledge holders. There was an anomalous east-west composition of the underground, which reminded me of the burial at this location, “Boryu said.

“It is important to note that remote sensing, such as GPR, does not need to know that children have gone missing in the context of Indian housing schools. This fact has been the case for generations of indigenous communities. Has been recognized by. “

In a report from Fifth Estate, Beaulieu reiterated the importance of oral tradition. “Ground penetrating radar is a scientific approach, but we really need to keep indigenous knowledge, knowledge systems, and verbal talk in an equal space,” she said.

Scrutiny of survey results

Giesbrecht emphasized the importance of the evidence and expressed concern that neither the government nor the media was urging them to look for evidence to substantiate the reported findings.

“Journalists haven’t asked that question for reasons that don’t seem very clear. The Prime Minister hasn’t boosted this. No one has pushed it back. Therefore, for this unfounded report. And there is this national hysteria, “he said.

Flanagan shares that feeling.

“The Canadian media swallows stories, hooks, lines and sinkers when they are announced and repeats them like a 50-minute show on CBC,” he said. “I think they have a lot to answer because this has blackened Canada’s reputation around the world. There was something at the United Nations blaming Canada, and there was a big story at the New York Times.”

Citizens associated with Giesbrecht, Flanagan, and about 12 other retired current scholars have formed an informal research group to scrutinize findings related to the Kamloops Indian Residential School. This group found the cause of death for all students known to have died while in school.

“It was a very big school. It was open for about 80 years and 51 children died during that time,” said Flanagan.

“Many of these deaths, when you look at them, at least according to the British Columbia Death Certificate, did not actually die at school, but … when you were at home in the summer. Some people died of illness. “

Epoch Times Photo
Children and staff at the St. Paul’s Indian Industrial School in Middlechurch, Manitoba, 1901. (Public domain)

As part of the 1894 Indian Act amendment, indigenous children aged 7 to 16 were required to attend school. It began in Ontario in 1871, and soon followed other states, more than 20 years after other children were required to have school education.

Due to the remote areas where some indigenous peoples lived, requiring children to attend school meant separating them from their parents.

The Truth Commission has heard of experiences of abuse in housing schools, including sexual and severe physical abuse. According to the analysis, about 50 people have been convicted.

The Commission identified 3,201 deaths in housing school children, where 2,434 occurred before 1940, prior to effective treatment of tuberculosis. The disease accounts for almost half of the dead with known causes.

Regarding certain tests at Kamloops and Williams Lake, Giesbrecht states that no evidence has been published for an independent analysis.

“They wouldn’t publish it and would basically give no evidence that they had relied on to make these claims,” ​​he said.

“This country has big black eyes. We are now considered a genocide nation, both internationally and domestically, but that’s not just true,” he adds, and the media seeks evidence. Said it should be.

Request for compensation

Following the announcement of the Kamloops School in May last year, as of late August 2021, 25 Canadian churches were on fire and at least 43 were destroyed. Flanagan says taxpayers will also pay fines.

“The whole story drives demands for various forms of compensation. The latest is a $ 40 billion reconciliation for inadequate child welfare over the last three decades.β€” β€”It should be $ 20 billion in compensation for individuals and another $ 20 billion to make the system work better, “he said.

“All these emotional outbursts from Kamloops have encouraged the Trudeau government to actually seize this claim and increase the amount spent.”

On January 11th, Jacques Rouillard, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Montreal, also refuted the general story in an article entitled “The Dorchester Review” published in The Dorchester Review.No bodies were found in Kamloops.Giesbrecht and Flanagan wrote in the same publication on January 28, “Large-scale crime or large-scale fraud? “ Only “a thorough investigation, including archaeological excavations,” said he was able to answer the question.

January 27, Mark Miller, Minister of Crown Indigenous Relations Tweeted response “Questioning the nature and validity of the article … [Williams Lake] “Community choices, and that must be their choice. It is definitely difficult to discover and carry out more intrusive forensic activities.”

Miller had no doubts about what the investigation would find.

“Communities that choose this path will need help to ensure that these efforts respect informed and rigorous trauma and survivor-focused protocols,” he said. Wrote. “When the results of these investigations are published, they will continue to shock the Canadian conscience.”

Lee Harding

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Lee Harding is a Saskatchewan-based journalist and think tank researcher and contributor to The Epoch Times.