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Monday, October 27, 2008

Mass graves uncovered in Canada?

Aboriginal children went into residential schools, sometimes against the wishes of their parents. Some of them didn't come out again. So what happened to them? That's the question of this Globe and Mail article raises for me.

The federal government is mapping burial sites at former residential schools as researchers try to identify how many of the estimated thousands of native children who went missing from the schools are buried in unmarked or anonymous graves.

Cemeteries scattered across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have been identified by researchers. Some of the graves have single white wooden crosses bearing no name. Others do not include even a cross.

...

At...the St. John's Indian Residential School in Alberta (also known as Wabasca Residential School), the researchers found a document from 1961 describing how the principal came across an unmarked cemetery. A second letter indicates the unidentified principal ultimately cleaned up the site and erected 110 white crosses.

"The place was a terrible mess, so much underbrush," according to one of the letters. "Even though it is not finished, one can see a great improvement in it all, at least it is not woods now."

...

An Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada (IRSRC) report reviewing Indian Affairs documents describes an incident in 1992, when a construction company uncovered at least 19 graves connected to an unmarked graveyard at the site of the former school.

There's more in the Globe's article.

I think it's too soon to say that the children were deliberately killed and buried in mass graves to hide the evidence, but it's still sad news. More likely, I'd guess, the people who could have given the children proper burial just didn't give a damn, and/or didn't have adequate resources to ensure the graves would be identifiable in the future.

If that's the explanation, it doesn't let people off the hook for this travesty. A real investigation needs to take place. Responsibility must be properly allocated.

Posted by Terrence Watson on October 27, 2008 in Aboriginal Issues | Permalink

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Comments

There are constant rumours of "mass graves" at residential schools. Specific allegations have been investigated and they have been debunked.

I would be surprised if there weren't many hundreds or thousands of unmarked graves - but calling them "mass graves" is inflammatory.

What's more it's nutty: http://thetyee.ca/Views/2008/04/30/TruthAndAbuse/

Posted by: Robert Jago | 2008-10-27 11:45:15 AM


Before anyone goes off and starts talking about
deliberate killings, remember that one would expect a higher degree of deaths due to childhood diseases because a lot of this happened before cures were found.
I too am skeptical about the existence of these.

Posted by: Ben Dover | 2008-10-27 12:09:57 PM


Plenty of kids who stayed on reserves also died prematurely. They just couldn't win, no matter what they did. I doubt there were many intentional killings in the residential schools. The fact that a lot of priests are perverts doesn't automatically make them murderers.

Posted by: dp | 2008-10-27 12:22:32 PM


"Some years ago the Indian Affairs branch asked for room on the property ... for a small graveyard in which to bury deceased Indians and Eskimos from Camsell Hospital whose homes are too far in the North to return the bodies for burial. The boys at the School keep the ground in reasonable condition for no remuneration but they get paid for digging graves."

Mass graves uncovered in Canada?
NO.

A mass grave is a single large hole with many bodies, you total douche.

Do you have any idea what you are making this sound like?

So we have single unmarked or unnamed graves.
Is there absolutely no circumstances that you can imagine that the named markers could have been displaced or lost over a period of 113 years, hmmmm?

Have you ever set foot on an Indian reservation?

You know, the Indians always go on about how they weren't allowed to speak their native tongues in the Residential Schools and its implied that it was to effect cultural genocide.
The reality was that the children of different tribes were present at the schools and they would fight like hell when they spoke different dialects.

The article clearly states that the tribe who lived on the land where the graves were dug didn't maintain the graves or area around them but did dig the graves themselves and still had a good relationship with the Christian sect that ran the Residential School.

These unmarked uncared-for graves were for people, not necessarily children, who were not of the tribe whose reserve the graves were on.

In addition, a lot of Indian tribes don't have marked graves or traditionally bury there own in the ground.
That's only for Indians who have converted to the White-man's religion.

Burying your dead in coffins in the ground with an identifying monument is a White-man kind of thing, culturally speaking.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-27 12:33:39 PM


What does it take to me a "mass" grave? 110 people enough?

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-10-27 12:48:38 PM


sorry: "to BE a 'mass grave'"

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-10-27 12:56:00 PM


>"What does it take to me a "mass" grave? 110 people enough?"
~Dr.Dawg

NO.
The 110 people have to have died at about the same time, not years apart, and be buried all in a single hole.

If you care to read the article that wasn't the case.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-27 12:57:30 PM


There was an Anglican graveyard near where I was born. The church was burned to protest the merger with the United Church in the 20's. The graveyard was neglected for decades, until a British immigrant took it upon herself to repair it. I spent a bit of time there as a young boy, exploring the site, trying to get a sense of history. There were headstones dating back to around 1800. My uncle Ed logged the surrounding area in the sixties, and dragged logs over the whole site. He was Catholic, and thought it was pretty funny.

Graveyards are routinely neglected, especially when cultures are replaced. Let's face it, there are more people alive today than have ever lived in the history of mankind. The concept of graveyards will have to change, or we'll have no room for the living. Maybe it's time to get focused on solving current problems, and letting the lost souls rest in peace.

Posted by: dp | 2008-10-27 1:41:31 PM


Where did the idea of "mass graves" come from? The article never even hinted at such things...

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-10-27 1:51:03 PM


Interesting story dp BUT, the Anglican church NEVER merged with the United Church. Perhaps the yahoos who burned down the church got their religions mixed up. Lots of graves are unmarked. My mother's and father's, for example.
As for "mass graves" in Canada, it's just another guilt-ridden Leftie's wet dream.

Posted by: Ben Dover | 2008-10-27 3:54:01 PM


So, Ben, you reject the Globe story, then. The "thousands of missing children" and the discovery of at least one unmarked gravespot with 110 bodies in it--before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has even gotten started--is just a "Leftie wet dream?"

Incidentally, for the record, I'm not convinced of the "deliberate genocide" theory--I don't buy Annett's thesis. If such was the attempt, it failed miserably. But attempted ethnocide, neglect, unconcern, racism? You betcha. More than enough evidence for all that.

Now some of the folks here can go back to quibbling over the meaning of the word "mass."

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-10-27 4:23:21 PM


Dawg,
You sound angry. Are you here to contribute something meaningful or just trolling?

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-10-27 4:34:56 PM


Dawggie: "The "thousands of missing children" and the discovery of at least one unmarked gravespot with 110 bodies in it--before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has even gotten started--is just a "Leftie wet dream?""

The article said nothing about a mass grave containing 110 bodies. Where are you getting that information? Source?

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-10-27 4:38:41 PM


I reject the "thousands of missing children" BS.

Calling individual graves "mass graves" just because the graveyard was untended and the markers were no longer there is biased, inflammatory, and unwarranted.
Not quibbling.

I have been on more than one reservation, I've seen how Indians choose to live, and I've personally known people who taught at residential Schools and lived there with their families, including their own children.

Those teachers were sacrificial in their attempts to bring Indians a better life through education and a taste of a structured life and those teachers were the salt of the earth.
(which is the opposite of how I would describe the Indians I've known and broken bread with)

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-27 4:42:10 PM


ben dover- My story was off a bit. The specific church was Anglican, and it was burned in protest. I only remember bits of the story from my dad(who was Methodist). Maybe it was the Methodists who burned it down.

Anyway, my uncle really did knock down the headstones. I tried to help find some of them a few years ago. It's not an easy task keeping track of forgotten ancestors.

Prairie Indians used rock cairns to bury their dead. I've had to deal with many sites over the years. Their descendants don't seem to care much about them. It's only a bunch of sissified, government employed graverobbers that make any fuss over old Indian gravesites.

Posted by: dp | 2008-10-27 5:47:52 PM


This is certainly worthy of diligent investigation.

The unexplained loss of any child requires it.

If they had died of Listeriosis or E coliform there would be no question about spending whatever resources to determine the cause of death.

Epsi

Posted by: epsilon | 2008-10-27 10:39:38 PM


#5,
My mother, a registered nurse, worked through 3(THREE) epidemics(not mere outbreaks) in Canada during the period of the Residential Schools.
Scarlet Fever, 2 Polio, and typhus- not to forget several waves of influenza epidemics swept across this country which she didn't fight.

The loss of Indian children weren't unexplained when they happened. You just have to understand that my Canadian ancestors valued life.

You are young and ignorant of history, #5.
(this doesn't even consider TB or other communicable diseases like rubella)
People also routinely died of simple ear infections and appendicitis.

Canada has also seen outbreaks epidemics of typhus and cholera in earlie centuries.

As late as 1997-98 year though 4500 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza were reported.

Imagine being an Indian who shuns hospitals.
(if you can)

>"Detailed records related to the Edmonton Indian Residential School include a principal's letter from 1955, stating: "Some years ago the Indian Affairs branch asked for room on the property ... for a small graveyard in which to bury deceased Indians and Eskimos from Camsell Hospital whose homes are too far in the North to return the bodies for burial. The boys at the School keep the ground in reasonable condition for no remuneration but they get paid for digging graves."

There were PANDEMICS of influenza in the periods that immediately precede the discovery of graves written of in the above referenced article.
http://effectmeasure.blogspot.com/2006/04/1951.html

Check #58 on this List
http://www.disastercenter.com/disaster/TOP100K.html

Finish your knowledge with this:
http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/10/31/72718.shtml

Don't forget to have a flu shot this season.
I get one every year.
I'm getting mine next week.

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-28 12:54:30 AM


If these deaths occured in white schools, I gaurantee you they would be investigated.

Let us get the facts and let's get these facts in the open. I think the aboriginal community is entitled to this. If I sent my girls abroad to school, and they never returned and if there was any hint of a pattern involved, do you not think that this would not deserve investigation.

Let us stop sugarcoating and being dismissive or laissez faire.

We are owed an explanation. And if there was child neglect involved on behalf of the authorities then they should be prosecuted.

Epsi

Posted by: epsilon | 2008-10-28 12:27:57 PM


"If these deaths occured in white schools, I gaurantee you they would be investigated."
#5

>-Native leaders and successive federal governments have said they simply do not know who or how many students of the residential schools even died, never mind where they might be buried.

Get that?
The number or who or how is unknown.
There isn't even any proof they were Residential School students who died.

Indians are not white children.
How are they different?

White children are documented from birth, usually in a hospital. In the days gone by that the Residential Schools operated, white children had family doctors and dentists and were usually christened.
They grew up to get drivers licenses,Social Insurance Numbers, get jobs and pay taxes just like their parents.

Indians on the other hand, especially in the days of 50-100 years ago were born undocumented from a mother who begat them in a "blanket marriage", their parents were illiterate and jobless, they weren't on the tax rolls or pay rolls, they weren't inoculated, didn't have medical and dental records, and went mostly unchristened so they didn't appear on church rolls. By the account of Indians I have argued with on this very blog the day of the "Apology!!!" Residential School often ran away from the Residential Schools never to return.

Indians in the mid/early 20th century, quite the opposite of white people, were born and went from the cradle to the grave virtually undocumented and largely still do today.

Even in the 1990s right here in Alberta the Klein government was trying to establish a new Treaty with the Lubicon Cree and were unable to establish how many there even were at in the late 1990s.

Seriously, the facts aren't going to be known.

This whole"investigation" is just going to be another lynching of the people who served in the Residential School program and the taxpayer is going to get gouged again based on a lot of inflammatory rhetoric and little else.

They're already going into this "investigation" with an apology for a "genocide" that never happed.

The outcome is already decided.

Anything at all of that is found is going to be made to fit the preconceived notion that the Residential School system in Canada was the sexual abuse equivalent of Auschwitz.

Individual unmarked graves in long forgotten untended graveyards are already being called "massgraves".

"if there was child neglect involved on behalf of the authorities then they should be prosecuted."
#5

Did you even read the dates that are being talked about in the article this topic is about?

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-28 2:31:50 PM


"Even in the 1990s right here in Alberta the Klein government was trying to establish a new Treaty with the Lubicon Cree and were unable to establish how many there even were at in the late 1990s."

That was Premier Don Getty (Grimshaw Accord). Klein didn't lift a finger on the issue. All he did was open the market up for bids on Lubicon land.

"Seriously, the facts aren't going to be known."

Especially if we rely upon you for them.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2008-10-28 2:51:03 PM


>"That was Premier Don Getty (Grimshaw Accord). Klein didn't lift a finger on the issue. All he did was open the market up for bids on Lubicon land."

Whatever.
The point is that the Lubicons are an example of undocumented Indian people in Alberta in the late 20th century.

The untended cemeteries on Residential School property, NOT MASS GRAVES, containing individual graves with individual decomposed bodies of people unnamed who, while they were alive, probably had no dental records or no medical records.

A virtually undocumented existence that, if the documents exist at all, are in the hands of the governemnt or the bands from which the Indians came.

If the facts were knowable we would already have them unless, like the true number of Lubicons, they are being concealed by the Indians themselves.

The article states that the bodies are reduced to plastic bags of bones.
(did you know that placing evidence in a plastic bag ruins the DNA, making identification impossible?)
In addition cause of death will be indeterminate.

From the G&M article:
>"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission asked for the material before its head, Mr. Justice Harry LaForme, resigned unexpectedly last week after accusing the two other commissioners of being too focused on the commission's mandate to uncover truth about residential schools, at the expense of reconciliation."

Get that?
Mr. Justice Harry LaForme, resigned last week because the other commissioners were trying to find the truth which would harm reconciliation.


"Seriously, the facts aren't going to be known."
Especially if we rely upon you for them.
~Dr.Dawg


It's clear that the truth will be jettisoned in favour of what is being euphemistically termed "reconciliation" because the apology has already been issued based on zero evidence that an apology was even necessary.

The facts aren't going to be made public because the facts get in the way of "reconciliation".

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-28 3:26:48 PM


This would be one of many things along these lines that has happened in Canada that aren't taught to us. In fact they about as buried as the victims. Canada has a lot of blood on its hands. We just don't like to think so.

Posted by: JC | 2008-10-28 9:39:35 PM


Thousands of "anonymous" "unmarked" graves across Canada. To those who dismiss any wrongdoing in this I ask: Why were their families never informed of the deaths of these children?

During the epidemics mentioned above, especially tuberculosis, the death rates of Indigenous people in their villages was the highest ever on record in the world. The death rates of the children in the schools were 7 times those of their parents in the villages. The death rates in the schools were so high they could not have occurred by normal transmission. The children were deliberately exposed to disease and not treated, not fed, not cared for, became infected and died in large numbers.

I am glad the Globe and Mail is persisting in following up and demanding reports of the task force looking into the deaths of children. Without that media attention and street action, the government and the AFN would have kept this issue quiet. The fact of children's deaths in the schools was not mentioned anywhere in official TRC documents.

Stay tuned for more on this issue.


Posted by: granny | 2008-10-29 9:15:46 PM


"Why were their families never informed of the deaths of these children?

During the epidemics mentioned above, especially tuberculosis, the death rates of Indigenous people in their villages was the highest ever on record in the world. The death rates of the children in the schools were 7 times those of their parents in the villages. The death rates in the schools were so high they could not have occurred by normal transmission. The children were deliberately exposed to disease and not treated, not fed, not cared for, became infected and died in large numbers."

Let's see.

The families were never informed of the deaths of these children,........BUT the death rates of the children in the schools were 7 times those of their parents in the villages.

Maybe you'll tell us where you got this contradictory information.

I think the parents were sent letters of their children's deaths because their parents didn't have telephones. Being illiterate, they didn't read the letters. They threw out the letters and that's all she wrote!

Oh, and we're sure to know of more grave sites right granny? Just as soon as that ground penetrating radar that you said was coming back in June arrives. Or has it come and gone?

Posted by: Speller | 2008-10-31 11:00:39 PM


Speller,

You "think" the parents were sent letters?

If you ask the authorities you will find that no letters were sent. The families were never informed of the fate of children who did not come home.

Some died, some escaped, some were shipped elsewhere to unknown fates.

These are some of the facts that are being investigated, to try to belatedly inform families about the missing children.

The information about death rates in the schools comes from the National Archives.

Posted by: granny | 2008-11-02 12:14:57 AM


>"You "think" the parents were sent letters?"
~granny

I say they were.

"If you ask the authorities you will find that no letters were sent. The families were never informed of the fate of children who did not come home."
~granny

What authorities would those be?

"These are some of the facts that are being investigated, to try to belatedly inform families about the missing children."
~granny

If they're "facts" then they don't need to be investigated, they already are established to be facts.
You are so full of lies, granny, you don't even know when you've told the truth.

"The information about death rates in the schools comes from the National Archives."
~granny

No link = no truth

Posted by: Speller | 2008-11-05 12:06:01 AM


Hunt begins for long-missing students

BILL CURRY

Print Edition 27/10/08 Page A1 Lock

The federal government is mapping burial sites at former residential schools as researchers try to identify how many of the estimated thousands of native children who went missing from the schools are buried in unmarked or anonymous graves.


Natives died in droves as Ottawa ignored warnings

BILL CURRY AND KAREN HOWLETT

Print Edition 24/04/07 Page A1 Lock

As many as half of the aboriginal children who attended the early years of residential schools died of tuberculosis, despite repeated warnings to the federal government that overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of medical care were creating a toxic breeding ground for the rapid spread of the disease, documents show.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/v5/templates/hub?searchText=residential+schools%2C+Bill+Curry&searchVideo=false&searchDateType=searchDatePreset&searchDatePreset=all&FromDay=01&FromMonth=01&FromYear=2000&ToDay=11&ToMonth=11&ToYear=2008&sort=Score%2Csortdate%2Csorttime&x=0&y=0&hub=Search&searchType=Advanced&from_date=&to_date=&start_row=1&current_row=1&start_row_offset1=0

Posted by: granny | 2008-11-11 8:29:21 PM



the fact is if the government brought about the death of thousands of a particular ethnic group or race by policy, it amounts to genocide. the numbers alone display this. the existence of mass graves is beside the point.

Posted by: WardOfTheState | 2009-04-04 6:27:48 AM


There are planty of mass graves on islands in the St. Lawrence. The Irish immigrants that were barred from entrance to Canada were left to freeze and starve to death on those islands when they were denied entrance to Canada and the boats dumped them there.
And I've been to cemeteries in Alberta full of Natives who died of TB because no doctor would venture out to them. One is 15 miles from downtown Calgary. There was a cure for TB then too.
And how about the Ukeranians who were forced into labor camps? If they tried to leave they were shot.
If they stayed they were worked or starved to death.
Canada has plenty of blood on its hands....mass graves at the residential schools would not surprise me one bit.

Posted by: JC | 2009-04-04 7:20:22 AM



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