So Much Worse Than I Had Imagined

 


I hope to not hear anyone boasting about our great Canadian values, not for a while, not after the discovery of 215 unmarked children's graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

More than a century worth of Canadian governments, Conservative and Liberal alike, looked the other way as First Nations children were removed from their families, often by force, and interned in the charnel houses known as residential schools. At least 3,200 children, some say closer to 6,000, died in these festering hell holes, most of diseases such as tuberculosis or meningitis. Canada's gulags.

Those who survived rarely emerged unscathed, having been treated brutally, sometimes denied food, without proper medical care, some sexually abused or worse. Some survivors migrated to nearby cities and succumbed to alcohol and drug addictions. There was no treatment for their PTSD.

The Kamloops residential school carried 51 deaths on its ledgers. There was no record of the other 215.

As a child, Chief Harvey McLeod of the Upper Nicola Band attended Kamloops Indian Residential School stud. He told CTV this week that when schoolmates disappeared, they were simply never spoken of again. “I just remember that they were here one day and they were gone the next,” he said.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission ultimately determined that at least 3,200 children died while a student at a Residential School; one in every 50 students (possibly one in 25) enrolled during the program’s nearly 120-year existence. That’s a death rate comparable to the number of Canadian POWs who died in the custody of Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

...The chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Justice Murray Sinclair, has said the true number of deaths could be as high as 6,000 . But a true figure will never be known for the simple fact that death records – if they were kept at all – were often lacking even basic personal information. “In many cases, school principals simply reported on the number of children who had died in a school, with few or no supporting details,” reads the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission .

One third of children who died at a residential school did not have their names recorded by school administrators. One quarter were marked as deceased without even their gender being noted. Among the 2,800 names on the official memorial register are children known to recorded history only as “Alice,” “Mckay” or “Elsie.”

Bodies of children were not returned to families, and parents rarely learned the circumstances of a child’s death. Often, the only death notification would be to send the child’s name to the Indian Agent at his or her home community.

In 1938, after one mother near Cornwall, Ont., learned of her son’s death at residential school due to meningitis, she was denied a request to return his body home for burial. “It is not the practice of the Department to send bodies of Indians by rail excepting under very exceptional circumstances,” read a response from the Department of Indian Affairs, adding that it was “an expenditure which the Department does not feel warranted in authorizing.”

There was plenty of righteous indignation at Trump's handling of children crossing the border from Mexico, kids being stripped from their parents, put into compounds. That was a terrible thing to do. But how does that stack up against what a succession of Canadian governments, Liberal and Conservative, did to our own First Nations and their children?

Comments

  1. To me this is one case that our forefathers{government, Churches} should be held accountable for. No Trudeau meaningless apology is going to be able to sweep this under the rug as has been done in the past.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that his apologies are facile, Terry. It's not just the deaths but several generations of First Nations that were fractured by our meat grinder. We sent a lot of the indigent living in doorways and alleys to their fate. Our usual response is, sorry, but get past it when we've never provided the means that might undo even some of the damage we inflicted.

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  2. Unless a result of after-the-fact tampering and a coverup, such sloppy record keeping can only mean that they anticipated and were prepared to tolerate mismanagement. If they were even aware of it, members of the public generally didn't know and didn't think they needed to know about how the program was being conducted, just as they were unaware of what went on at Mount Cashel (although the kids of Church-supporting Christians often did).

    When a discovery like this occurs, what happened at the site and over what period of time it happened need to be determined before drafting the orders for the parade of apologies. It's site-specific now, but there could be more sites where similar secrets are concealed. It might even be better to wait until we know the extent to which this level and type of malpractice occurred in the program. All that can be addressed by apologies issued at this time is that it was ever conceived and implemented, and Harper already did that. And I think for the present we'd prefer not to hear any sermons from politicians showcasing their personal indignation.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The international media is paying attention to Canada!!

    * Old growth logs on the highway. Enviro wars in the woods.
    * MP pees live on camera.
    * Mass grave of 1st-nations children.

    Maybe now, smug Canadians will leave their flag at home when they travel abroad, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  4. .. this is not 'news"to me. I set up via notification a major league production company that Harper's term ruling 'Heritage Moments' requested RFQ's.. I pitched certain approaches, and the CEO chose his own pet topics. Several years in they requested detailed 'Indigenous' themed & supported proposals from certified or approved suppliers

    I submitted ideas & rough 'sketches' to the team. Norval Morrisseau as Residential School survivor. CEO decides Mush Hole burial pits in Ontario is the better topic to pitch. I suggest that's a fatally flawed story for Heritage Moments happy historical successes record. Harper Government ? Are you kidding ? His (OUR) Government suppressed release of massive First Nation witnesses testimony.. Trudeau Government continues that.. The beat goes on

    How is Grassy Narrows clean up and the promised Mercury poisoning Heathcare Center coming along ? ? ? Total silence.. Rope A Dope.. Flip flop & fly

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Ry Moran, founding director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at
    @umanitoba, says that as many as 400 unmarked burial locations are believed to exist across Canada, of which only about 100 have been identified."

    400 unmarked burial locations

    Either we uncover these crimes scenes immediately (and aggressively pursue individuals/organizations where possible) or we will all be endlessly suffering from the slow-drip of genocidal guilt as they are exposed one by one.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The devil is in the details.
    When this sad news was published in the National Post the comments thereof are nothing less than hostile to First Nations.

    https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/work-underway-for-forensics-experts-to-identify-and-repatriate-b-c-school-remains

    TB

    ReplyDelete
  7. "The commission ultimately determined that at least 3,200 children died while a student at a Residential School; one in every 50 students enrolled during the program’s nearly 120-year existence."
    if this is true............
    1 in 50?
    2% ?
    While weathering the times of spanish flu, polio, small pox, TB, mumps etc.?
    Other brutalities excluded (as they were in many ways brutal times for most of us...beatings ,sexual abuse , poverty, starvation), a 98% survival rate seems pretty reasonable.

    ReplyDelete
  8. No more misty-eyed apologies on behalf of Canada. The Conservatives and the Liberals have to own this personally. There was no other party governing the country for the roughly 1`20 years these atrocities spanned. The minister of Indian and Northern Affairs was either Conservative or Liberal. This happened on their watch and they're responsible for the outcome. The Liberal Party needs to apologize not just to the devastated First Nations but also to the Canadian people. The Conservative Party likewise needs to deliver a fulsome apology not just to the devastated First Nations but also to the Canadian people. They failed to prevent the harm, including deaths, at these residential schools but they also disgraced the country and the Canadian people.

    ReplyDelete
  9. No more misty-eyed apologies on behalf of Canada. The Conservatives and the Liberals have to own this

    No
    Those who elected them do.
    We are all complicit and continue to be so .
    Just read the comments on the subject in the National Post!!

    No excuse but Canadians are not alone as the recent historical events in Tulsa show

    https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/556067-tulsa-marks-race-massacre-centennial-as-us-grapples-with-racial

    Sadly these situations reflect upon humanity itself as racial intolerance is as old as man himself.

    The difference being that we consider ourselves better educated and informed kind of superior to those past wrongdoings..

    The more things change the more they remain the same.

    How can we change that..


    TB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't disagree more, TB. No one elected those bastards to do this and I'm sure you didn't either. I have no complicity in this. I have no wish to read the comments in the NatPo article. There is a lot of racism in Canada, especially in the west, when it comes to First Nations. That doesn't taint us all, far from it.

      Tulsa was a different situation entirely. A young black man got into a store elevator. The white girl running it was heard to scream. That was all it took. It didn't matter that she promptly exonerated the young man of any wrongdoing. The white population of Tulsa, or part of it, was just waiting for an excuse.

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