No remains unearthed yet from Canada’s residential school grave sites

Zelda CaldwellKatie Yoder By Zelda CaldwellKatie Yoder for CNA

A teddy bear sits beside a lantern outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School where flowers and cards have been left as part of a growing makeshift memorial created in response to media reports that the "remains" of 215 children have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops on June 5, 2021. / Cole Burston /AFP via Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 25, 2022 / 18:48 pm (CNA).

On May 27, 2021, the news broke that unmarked graves containing the remains of indigenous children had been discovered on the grounds of a former residential school in British Columbia.

The Kamloops Indian residential school, which operated from the late 19th century to the late 1970s, was among Canada’s government-sponsored schools run by the Catholic Church to forcibly assimilate indigenous children.

More than a year later, no bodies have been discovered at the Kamloops site. It is not clear whether the graves said to have been discovered there actually exist.

The topic of the residential schools has come back into focus on the occasion of Pope Francis’ penitential trip to Canada. In apologizing for the Catholic Church’s role in operating Canada’s government-sponsored residential school system, he regretted the “cultural destruction and forced assimilation” inflicted on the indigenous people of the country. Indigenous children were taken from their families and forbidden to speak their native languages.

As a “starting point” the pope called for “a serious investigation into the facts of what took place in the past and to assist the survivors of the residential schools to experience healing from the traumas they suffered.”

Media frenzy distorts initial finding

At the root of the controversy is how the purported burial sites were discovered. Ground penetrating radar picked up images, but it is yet to be determined whether those images represent graves.

In hindsight, the announcement of the results of the radar testing was made with a caveat. It was seen as a “preliminary” finding, yet the media and politicians ran with the story that mass graves were found at the site of a former residential school.

“This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings came to light — the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School,” Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community said after the initial announcement.

“Remains of 215 children found at former Kamloops residential school: First Nation,” read a headline in the Vancouver Sun. The lead of the story read: “A B.C. First Nation has confirmed that the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School have been found on the reserve using ground-penetrating radar.”

Children’s red dresses are staked along a highway near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School where flowers and cards have been left as part of a makeshift memorial created in response to media reports that the “remains” of 215 children have been discovered buried near the facility, in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, on June 2, 2021. Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

The Associated Press’ story that week made the radar results appear definitive: “The remains of 215 children, some as young as 3 years old, have been found buried on the site of what was once Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school — one of the institutions that held children taken from families across the nation.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adopted similar language in a statement he issued the day after the research findings were announced: “The news that remains were found at the former Kamloops residential school breaks my heart — it is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history. I am thinking about everyone affected by this distressing news. We are here for you.”

In its report on what it called the “grisly discovery,” the New York Post called the suspected burial site a “mass grave.”

“A mass grave filled with the remains of 215 Indigenous children, some as young as three, has been found on the grounds of a former residential school in Canada that was known for physical, emotional and sexual abuse, reports said Friday,” the Post story began.

In a story published June 7, 2021, headlined “How Thousands of Indigenous Children Vanished in Canada,” The New York Times reported, “The remains of more than 1,000 people, mostly children, have been discovered on the grounds of three former residential schools in two Canadian provinces since May.”

Sceptics question the evidence

Jacques Rouillard, professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Montreal, has questions about the validity of the evidence. The ground penetrating radar may have detected something, but not necessarily burial grounds, he suggested in an article for the Dorchester Review.

Rouillard maintained that in the case of the Kamloops residential school, ground penetrating radar can tell us little about what is actually under the ground.

“By never pointing out that it is only a matter of speculation or potentiality, and that no remains have yet been found, governments and the media are simply granting credence to what is really a thesis: the thesis of the ’disappearance’ of children from residential schools,” he wrote.

He noted that Sarah Beaulieu, the anthropologist who performed the initial radar testing, tried to rein in the media tsunami at a July 15, 2021 press conference.

“We need to pull back a little bit and say that they are ‘probable burials,’ they are ‘targets of interest,’ for sure,” Beaulieu had said, adding that the sites “have multiple signatures that present like burials,” but that “we do need to say that they are probable, until one excavates.”

“All of this is based only on soil abnormalities that could easily be caused by root movements, as the anthropologist herself cautioned,” Rouillard wrote.

People watch as a convoy of truckers and other vehicles travel in front of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in support of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc people in response to media reports that the “remains” of 215 children were discovered buried near the facility, in Kamloops, Canada, on June 5, 2021. Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Shortly after the Kamloops story broke, a second story made headlines: ground detecting radar had discovered 751 graves at the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

The New York Times (“Horrible History’: Mass Grave of Indigenous Children Reported in Canada”) used the term “mass grave” to describe what was found in what became part of the Cowessess First Nation Reserve.

Indigenous leaders, however, made it clear that there were no mass graves at the Marieval site. Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme told CBC News, “This is not a mass grave site. These are unmarked graves.”

Journalist Terry Glavin pointed out in the National Post that the graves were detected because there was an existing cemetery there, a Catholic cemetery connected with the Mission of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Marieval. This, Gavin wrote, was the likely explanation for the 751 graves detected.

Future excavations in doubt

Further studies or excavations could shed light on the situation. In May, the New York Post reported that there have been no excavations at Kamloops — and that there are no announced dates for an excavation to begin. The report cited a spokesperson from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, a band located in Kamloops, as saying that nothing has been dug out from the ground so far.

The CBC, that same month, cited Rosanne Casimir, the chief of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, as saying that work could begin soon at the former school to exhume and identify remains.

“We are utilizing science to support each step as we move forward,” Casimir said. “We do have a technical task force that has been put together that consists of various professors as well as technical archeologists and we are continuing to work with a ground-penetrating radar specialist as well.”

The CBC reported that local communities are torn on whether to dig up unmarked graves at residential schools. While some school survivors see exhumation as a way to properly memorialize victims, others want them left undisturbed.

Kamloops school survivor and poet Garry Gottfriedson told the CBC that “All of us that were at that residential school already knew that they [bodies] were there.”

“Now, it’s sort of like saying, ‘Do you believe us?’ Exhuming those bodies and that sort of thing is one way to say, ‘Now, if those were your 215 relatives put in a mass grave like that, tell me how you would get over it.’”’

In Ontario, police and the coroner’s office received a request from indigenous police to assist in an investigation at the Mohawk Institute Residential School, where records document 54 students dying, the New York Times reported last year.

There are bodies there, the local community says.

According to leaders of the Six Nations of the Grand River, where the school once stood, human bones were exhumed in the 1980s and then reburied without a formal investigation.

The children at these schools died for many reasons, including disease (which spread easily due to malnourishment and unsanitary conditions), accidents, and suicide. The former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada, Murray Sinclair, also remembered hearing survivors testify about infants being killed who were born to young girls and fathered by priests, the Washington Post reported last year.

“For many Canadians and for people around the world, these recent recoveries of our children — buried nameless, unmarked, lost and without ceremony are shocking, and unbelievable,” RoseAnne Archibald, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada, said in a statement last year.

She added: “Not for us, we’ve always known.”

Kevin J. Jones, Shannon Mullen, and Carl Bunderson contributed to this story.


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36 Comments

    • Your comment about a septic tank is prescient. It seems that the “grave” sites correspond to an area of extensive septic field. The installation of the septic field was well documented for the time with drawings on record. Further confirmation is necessary but the most likely explanation at this is that this was a case of a very sloppy investigation.

  1. I’m going to pull a St. Thomas—- I would like to see the bodies before I believe their are bodies of children in a mass grave. Just thought in this day and age when many want to accuse the Catholic’s of just about everything.I need proof,demand it!

  2. I am wondering how ground penetrating radar, if it registers soil anomalies that could be mistaken for a burial, can distinguish the number of burials as well as the ages of those buried. That is especially the case if it is a mass grave. How can one even discern individuals?

  3. At the time of Canada’s indigenous education program Canada was not a sovereign nation. Still the status of a British colony.
    “The governorship [of Canada] was placed in the hands of Sir John Colborne. Durham [who Colborne replaced], on his departure, issued a very injudicious proclamation, which was virtually an attack upon the Government which had deserted him. Canadian Act of Reunion. A bill providing a new constitution for the colony was introduced and passed in 1840, and this Canadian Act of Reunion adopted his report almost in its entirety” (British Express).
    From previous research the indigenous peoples ed program initiated by the Canadian parliament the only real prospect of maintaining such a system in far flung remote areas were the religious orders, Protestant missionaries. Catholic sisters responded to the appeal for personnel, were given assurance of sufficient financial support. In time with a Canadian colonial government with changing administrations from Britain that assistance waned. The sisters were left with a virtually impossible task to maintain a healthy environment in remote, extremely cold winter areas. Deaths due to pneumonia, Tb, lack of proper diet were the likely cause. Not as suggested as purposeful neglect by hateful media, prejudiced opinions.

    • Dear pastor and brother:

      There are two sides to the story and you address some aspects which want attention.

      To his credit, Papa did an admirable job of confessing and asking for forgiveness.

      We seldom hear the success stories and commendation for priests and sisters who did their job with love and zeal.
      It is odd that one aspect of residential schools is raised by the attendees. The system produced doctors, architects, accountants, lawyers, judges and high ranking businessmen. The work done inspired others to do worthwhile work in society. For educated people to go back to their hamlets might not be productive, so they integrated into society and made important contributions.

      Where wrong doing took place, let us acknowledge it and move on. Where confession is offered, forgiveness (the Christian way) needs to be presented by the wronged party.

      Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

      John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

      John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

      God bless you,

      Brian

      • Brian, you imply I’m not aware of abuse that may have occurred. In fact I acknowledge that in my comment. Reread it. It’s not necessary for you to preach to me.

        • Fr Peter, I did not “imply” that you were unaware of abuse. Indeed it is not necessary for me to preach to you, it is best that you preach to me.

          The scripture included is for others to consider. You know these words and regardless of how often we read them, they are a blessing to our souls.

          Your viewpoint enlightens and I enjoy your perspective. You lead and I hope you find encouragement in the fact that a layman endorses your service and strives to emulate excellence from wherever quarter it comes.

          Blessings,

          Brian

          • Thanks Brian. Then I must be misreading you. Forget my response to you on G Weigel article.

    • Methodist minister Egerton Ryerson, chief superintendent of education for Upper Canada 1844 initiated the residential school system backed by the Dept of Indian Affairs [Dr Farrow] when Canada was a British colony. Canada became the Dominion of Canada with its own parliament 1867, although it remained as such a dominion of Britain [the British parliament retained sovereignty over its dominions. Canada did not possess full legal autonomy until the Statute of Westminster was passed on December 11, 1931]. Canada attained complete sovereignty as a nation 1982. The point here is that the emergence from colony, to dominion, to legal autonomy, to eventual complete sovereignty leaves the issue of a consistent well supported indigenous residential education effort in question.

      • Father –

        Thanks for the history lesson. My family has been living in Canada since the 1600’s. Respectfully, your theory that Indigenous suffering under the residential school system was the result of some sort of funding/oversight gap because of Canada’s historical relationship with the UK is mere conjecture (made up) and completely beside the point.

        The actual point is the very real suffering Indigenous children suffered under unjust government policy facilitated by Catholic religious (and other churches). The fact remains that thousands of children were sexually/physically/emotionally abused at the hands of Catholic religious. Moreover, at least 3200 children died in these church run institutions.

        Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report which was produced by the Canadian government. The section starting on page 135 should be of particular interest:

        https://irsi.ubc.ca/sites/default/files/inline-files/Executive_Summary_English_Web.pdf

        After McCarrick, Boston, Mt. Cashel and hundreds of other examples you would think we would now know that must be humble and listen to the stories of those who have suffered at the hands of clergy/religious and the hierarchy. Yet, when it comes to the suffering of Indigenous peoples (many of whom are fellow Catholics…not that it should matter) many Catholics want to dismiss their suffering with glib pseudo historical explanations and macabre contrarianism. Isn’t humble and sincere Confession and reparation Catholicism 101?. Pope Francis is bringing to fruition the work started by St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope Francis is right to do what he is doing!

    • Father: You are incorrect. Canada ceased being a colony in 1867, and the last residential school closed in 1996.

      Your comments seem to skim over or minimize the horrendous sexual and physical abuse these children experienced at the hands of Catholic religious.

  4. It has become common in the media the last 10 years or so, to make accusations which need not be borne out in reality with PROOF. It is enough to sully your target with accusations, because that is what people remember and stupidly believe.The accusation itself does all the damage and cannot be undone. Its clear there are NO “mass graves” as where many, many bodies are dumped together in one heap, as they were in WWII Nazi concentration camps..Since these schools existed for roughly 100 years with thousands passing through, why is it astonishing that some would pass away? People die. Even children die. Especially as some arrived sick and/or malnourished. People died then of MANY illnesses which we do not have to fight today. I had a great grandmother who died in her 30’s from Tuberculosis. We do not see that any longer. I can certainly understand the feelings that an injustice was done to these native families and their children. Trying to imply however that they were brought there to be killed, or that abuse was the norm, is a slander than should not stand. Its unfortunate the Pope would give credence to this politically charged fishing expedition by traveling to Canada. In my opinion his being there is a huge mistake, and can only serve to further damage the church.What are these “activists” looking for?? The fact they continue to claim bodies have been found, when they have not, tells you much.They are not seeking truth. They are almost certainly seeking either money or the destruction of the church. Or both. The accusation of babies being fathered priests and then murdered, is slander (if not total fantasy) of the worst sort, and a public retraction should be demanded unless some sort of proof can be provided. The Pope needs new advisors.

  5. Usually find evidence of bodies in a cemetery. Might be bodies of nuns who died while working at the school. Might be bodies of children who died of diseases while attending school. I really doubt there was any wrong-doing causing death at these schools. We cannot judge what went on in these schools by todays standards—we have no clue what challenges presented themselves at these schools—we have no clue what resources were available to combat diseases at these schools. It is disappointing that the media is claiming wrong-doings at these schools without an ounce of evidence.

    • LJ and Gerald: The proof and evidence is found in the Canadian government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report. The report and it’s evidence is over 500 pages long. It and other reports can be found here:

      https://nctr.ca/records/reports/

      It’s also important to note that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have also acknowledge the profound harm and abuse that took place in the residential school system. The CCCB have lots of info here:

      https://www.cccb.ca/indigenous-peoples/

      Don’t dismiss the suffering of Indigenous, Inuit and Métis peoples. Many of which are very faithful Catholics/Christians in spite of the abuse they’ve suffered.

      • Innuendo is NOT proof. I think we saw enough of that type of “investigation” in the multi-year ( and proven fake) Russia probe of Donald Trump. Producing volumes of statements and possibilities and maybes adds up to nothing in the end. The same here. This article says NO graves have been found. Are you refuting that assertion?? Doubtless the idea of trying to force a person to change their culture is VERY unappealing to us in this century. Well, 100 years have passed and now people feel differently than they did then. Europeanizing these Natives was seen at the time as a way to help improve their future AND their souls. Are you trying to say that all religious people who came into contact with these children were predators and abusers?? It seems unlikely in the extreme. I remain exasperated by attempts of activists in this century to judge people of other centuries by later more enlightened standards. In any large group of thousands of people interacting there are going to be some terrible people who do terrible things. That most certainly does NOT mean that the church was encouraging those behaviors, nor that those behaviors were somehow church policy.That is what the media would have you believe and the Pope has played into their hands. How much would the church have really known up close about what was happening day to day at these schools, which even today appear to be in highly isolated locations? No doubt you will find graves. As one Native leader pointed out, there were known to be cemeteries by the schools (one beginning quite normally as a catholic cemetery in the area) and no attempt was made to hide that fact. If indeed crimes were being committed that resulted in death, one imagines a greater attempt would be made to HIDE the bodies, not bury them out in the open which could raise questions. People die, especially back in those days, of stuff that we would today see as easily cured with the correct medicines. They did not have those medicines then. Articles have said, the financial resources were not available to ship the bodies home either. As some have made the point, people of every race and nationality found life precarious at best 100 years ago. People died of all kinds of things. Native Americans had no monopoly on that. All I see in this story is the same old woke ideology which has become the media’s favorite pitch line, which tries to make everything white or western bad, and everything about indigenous life or about people of color good. If you will excuse the pun, life has NEVER been that “back and white”. I remain convinced the Pope made an error coming to Canada. It simply is throwing oil on the fire. What happened 100 years ago can never be fully known.

        • LJ – These horrible things didn’t just happen 100+ years ago. They happened within living memory. The last residential school closed in 1996. At this week’s Papal events many survivors were there. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission interviewed over 6000 survivors. I really think you need to educate yourself on what actually happened. You’re doing what many Catholics did before the Legionnaires of Christ, McCarrick, Boston, Mt. Cashel scandals. Your being an apologist for horrendous behaviour. You aren’t listening to what victims are telling you. Being a faithful Catholic doesn’t meant defending priests/religious/hierarchy when they are wrong. Finally, many Indigenous people continue to be faithful Catholics/Christians despite the abuse they suffered. Don’t disrespect your brothers and sisters in Christ by discounting their stories out of misplaced loyalty to the institution.

        • Leave it to a Catholic traditionalist to invoke Donald Trump in a 6,000 word rant as the first defense for Catholic wrong-doing. lol, who do you even pray to at Church anymore?

          • To Joe and Andrew,

            I do not an apologist for bad behavior. Nor do I “defend” Catholic wrong-doing. What I object to is what has become all too common all across society in recent years: Accusations being accepted as proof and conviction. I am well familiar with sensational media cases of sexual accusation later proved quite FALSE. Here in the US the Tawana Brawley Case comes to mind, as well as the Duke Rape case. In both instances, both media and other institutions, such as job sites where the accused worked, were all too rapid to accept ACCUSATION as fact, when in fact, there WERE no facts. Because in those cases which like this were racially inflamed, the accusations were nearly impossible to fight fairly, in part because people feared being labeled ( and libeled) with the well worn accusation of “racism”. Fearful of being so accused, people who should have known better, who should have fought for facts, instead decided to bow to the mere accusation and accept it as FACT. They fired those accused, demeaned them in the press. THAT is what I find truly disgusting. It is not unlike what has been happening on our campuses when male students accused by a female student of a sexual offense (often later shown to be consensual) are stripped of due process. Now, the simple accusation is enough to ruin live, educations, careers. Unless there are verified RECORDS, medical records, police reports, govt reports MADE AT THE TIME OF THE INCIDENT, you cannot prove most or any cause of death in the case of the Native schools.Try doing that by going back 100 years. Or 25 years for that matter. People are angry because these children were robbed of their culture. A fair assertion. Murder, etc however is going a mile too far unless proof can be obtained. To paint all nuns, priests, missionaries with the brush of abuse as if ALL could be held accountable for such actions, is both wrong and disgusting. Surely if this was widespread, it would have been known at the time. Speak to any faithful priest who has had a parent eyeball him with mistrust. I do not deny at all that given thousands of children over 100 years, abuse might have happened. That such would be widespread I think unlikely in the extreme. . Such people should be punished if still alive. What I still want to see is PROOF. Not a media lynching.

          • Really unfair comment. You betray your liberal biases. Donald Trump, a victim of continuous and concerted slander by the democrats, and their puppets the MSM. He was the most pro-life president the US has ever had. And he did not hide it. Any so called Catholics who voted against him should be ashamed

      • Andrew, I don’t think anyone’s dismissing First Nations people or the sad history of US Indians. Truthfully, I think things have been harder for tribal folks in the States. But we have to go by facts, not media hysteria.

          • Thank you for sharing that Andrew. I just think it might be prudent for forensic investigations to come up with the facts before more commentary is made about secret burials.
            As far as a “Cultural genocide” committed, I do think many Europeans were acting from a 19th & earlier 20th century perception-as most people of those previous eras were. We learn from our mistakes. Sharing the Gospel shouldn’t be seen as a mistake though. Breaking up families? No, not a good idea. At least we’ve progressed on that approach.

            I’m not an Indian nor descended from any North American tribal people as far as I know but one side of my family has a pretty long history in Canada & I’ve learned there is always more than one side to an historical story.

  6. In view of the assimilation program of the Canada secular authorities of the epoch in question, the residential school system provided shelter, clothing, meals, some education, a secure relatively protected environment, some defense against further undue encroachment, a place of stability according to the talents and motivation of those who cared about it and a level of recreation and society. From information available, other than particular situations of actual abuse, what people seem to find so difficult about the residential system, amounts to the same suffering that happens in any dysfunctional home -and there are multitudes. If these things are not addressed properly according to truth and modesty, there will be a lot of hype and inauthentic spirituality that would only be the fault of the modern era and not the residential system. Whereas, at the earlier time, the State imposition was blunted by the action of the altruistic and the religious; today, the State politicking, untruth and sensationalism could end up being endorsed by the latter. Unfortunately, as it appears, that is precisely what has been going on already too long nearly 70 years.

    Meanwhile there are indeed more serious things happening that target the indigenous children and women -and men- and at the same time threaten to overflow into the wider society. Some of it may have institutional underpinning.

    • mrscracker, I would like to comment on your statement: [ ” As far as a “Cultural genocide” committed, I do think many Europeans were acting from a 19th & earlier 20th century perception-as most people of those previous eras were. We learn from our mistakes. Sharing the Gospel shouldn’t be seen as a mistake though.” ]

      What has happened to indigenous populations impacted by the colonial expansion of the British Empire can not be simply accepted as people acting from a 19th & earlier 20th century perception especially with respect to missionary activity and individual christians perspectives towards the native people they encountered in the many and various lived situations.
      As a young man I asked myself the question, how could the injustices perpetrated against indigenous Australians have occurred when my forebears where all christian and the colonising nation was a christian nation? I have found it necessary to distinguish between those who in their daily dealings follow the character and priorities of Jesus as outlined and characterised in the Gospels and those who are ‘nominally christian but who’s priorities, choices and motivations may it known that they are acting in a contrary fashion to a live patterned after the character of Jesus who we as christians are called to emulate.
      Indeed when looking at historical records it becomes evident that there were many who responded to indigenous people in the pattern and character of Jesus and who while making some mistakes ( in hindsight due to cultural ignorance etc ) who acted to keep families together and had profound respect for them. At the same time there were those who destroyed lives while maintaining an adherence to a faith that expressed itself in little more than fronting up to church every Sunday.
      Jesus addressed the folly of having a nominal faith where the heart was absent, the thirst for justice a no go zone, where the notion of a Jesus inspired love distorted by a desire to fashion Jesus after our own image and interpretation especially when it comes to the pursuit of land and wealth.
      This dynamic continues to this present day. Some familiarity with the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius may be of assistance to understanding.
      https://www.cccb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/catholic-response-to-doctrine-of-discovery-and-tn.pdf

      • Well, Christians are fallen human beings & our efforts even with the best intentions are imperfect & inadequate to the mission at hand.
        I really think it’s more about Christians cooperating with a govt. or govt. policy that becomes problematic. When missionaries enable the status quo more energetically than spreading the Gospel.
        I had family members who lived in Haiti & they came to have a rather negative view of missionaries. Needed as missionaries are in Haiti there are always a handful who create a bad image.
        I don’t think everything about colonization was negative. Britain for all it’s mistakes worked hard to eradicate slavery in Africa & end the burning of widows in India. Not every single cultural tradition is worth preserving.
        I always find it odd that we condemn colonization by the West but totally ignore the Ottoman Empire & its kidnappings, cultural erasures, mutilation of young boys, & slave markets in the East. Slavery was only officially outlawed in Saudi Arabia in the 1960’s.We hear much about the Atlantic slave trade but ignore kidnapped Europeans sold in North Africa & Constantinople. Or the Africans marched East to be sold in the Persian Gulf.
        Oppressing, enslaving, & denying others their cultures has always been part of our fallen human condition. In Canada, Australia, & every other region of the globe. And in some places like Haiti cultural forms of slavery still continue today.

      • Trying to judge people of another times by today’s standards is an exercise in futility. Its comparing apples to shoes.It cannot be done, and more to the point it is unfair to do so. People are products of their times,of the social and political and economic structures which existed THEN. Period. Their religious beliefs, except for those with a missionary mentality, dont always come into play. Many people who claim “Christianity” are in fact simply cultural Christians. They might observe some niceties like getting ashes on Ash Wednesday but otherwise the religion’s teachings have not really penetrated their hearts so as to put them into action. The vast majority of Christians today would not qualify as Saints. I would also point out that in many cases indigenous people would not have qualified as saints either. Historic accounts in the US are rife with horrifying stories of white settlers, including women and children, killed in war party raids, kidnapped and kept as slaves, etc. Warring for territory was a fact of life among various tribes and many were tortured or killed. The bucolic peaceful native is a lovely stereotype. Unfortunately it is not an accurate one. Most stories have two sides to them.

  7. I would recommend Douglas Farrow’s article in CWR, The History of Canada’s Residential Schools. Also Fr. Raymond de Souza’s coverage.

  8. From Fr. de Souza – “That there were those who generously served in difficult circumstances is not historically in dispute, but Catholic leadership in Canada has been largely silent on this matter, sacrificing the memory of their forbears in the face of opposition today”. (Amid a reckoning, Pope Francis shares prospect of hope – National Post, July 26/22). This, too, is an injustice.

  9. LJ, I don’t think we ought to be looking at the problems of any era merely through the lens of that era’s mentality or spirit of the age. Rather we should be taking the issues – both the highly problematic and not so problematic – through the lens of God’s value system as exemplified through the Gospels themselves. We should be asking ourselves how would Jesus view the situations of those times, and in order to arrive at an answer that reflects an authenticity of Jesus’ own heart, we need to ask Him by interiorly searching, guided by the wisdom of the Saints, for that answer which most closely reflects His position of love, care, concern, and solidarity for and with those who suffered unjustly for whatever reason in any era.

    It is only by virtue of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that we can truly know how to interpret what we read and hear regardless of the time or place. Of course in every era you will have a particular “fashioning spirit”, that particular spirit of human creativity that is unique to that era as dictated by the ways in which the cultural, social, and political dynamics operated in the various mileus of interactive interplay in human society during that time but we should not be analyzing the moral accountability merely through the lens of those trends for if we are truly Christian and/or Catholic in our faith, we need to anchor ourselves not in alignment with the spirit of the age, trends of an era, or the ways of the world but rather anchor ourselves in the truth as told by the Spirit of God, be it concerning the 21st century or the 19th century or any other century or epoch for that matter.

    It is remarkably simple but it needs time and conscientious interior cultivation to arrive at this place of anchoring our hearts where God would want them positioned relative to looking at and discerning the moral predicaments of any issue in any time.

    And that is also why we are so blessed to have the tradition of our Catholic faith to help us. That said, I will give utmost credence to mrscracker for highlighting the truth about the difference between those who really live out their faith with genuine conviction and love, and those who are basically Christian or Catholic in name only and whilst the latter may be flawless at Sunday Mass attendance, they do not (like their counterparts called the Pharisees of Jesus’ own day) care for much insofar as using the interior wisdom of God for the compassionate ends it is meant to be used for.

    This is not to say LJ that everything you have said is untrue for much of what you have said is true – that it is an undeniable hard-core fact that some anti-Church interests within certain channels of the contemporary secular media have been virulent in trying to use this issue of these radar findings to scapegoat the Catholic Church which frankly is hardly surprising and added to this, the devil and his cohorts have been working round the clock to try and swing the sentiment and spiritual favour of indigenous communities towards his side of the divide further plunging them into division and spiritual peril. This is a tragic thing and we need to be understanding that there is a fierce spiritual battle being waged here and that such battles produce certain symptoms in the temporal that are reflective or indicative of the behind-the-scenes spiritual interests at work. But we have to take heart and not be rendered powerless by all of this in our thinking and outlook. And therefore we need to take up that sword of the Spirit alluded to by St Paul in Ephesians Ch.6 and use it in our daily fight for the right to life, against the culture of death both in our personal lives and in our publically interactive lives.

  10. Moderation Team: Apologies but I am resubmitting my comment as I made a citation error in the previous version. I meant to cite John Hallam and not mrscracker. Correction has been made in this version. Please delete the first submission and replace it with this version:

    LJ, I don’t think we ought to be looking at the problems of any era merely through the lens of that era’s mentality or spirit of the age. Rather we should be taking the issues – both the highly problematic and not so problematic – through the lens of God’s value system as exemplified through the Gospels themselves. We should be asking ourselves how would Jesus view the situations of those times, and in order to arrive at an answer that reflects an authenticity of Jesus’ own heart, we need to ask Him by interiorly searching, guided by the wisdom of the Saints, for that answer which most closely reflects His position of love, care, concern, and solidarity for and with those who suffered unjustly for whatever reason in any era.

    It is only by virtue of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that we can truly know how to interpret what we read and hear regardless of the time or place. Of course in every era you will have a particular “fashioning spirit”, that particular spirit of human creativity that is unique to that era as dictated by the ways in which the cultural, social, and political dynamics operated in the various mileus of interactive interplay in human society during that time but we should not be analyzing the moral accountability merely through the lens of those trends for if we are truly Christian and/or Catholic in our faith, we need to anchor ourselves not in alignment with the spirit of the age, trends of an era, or the ways of the world but rather anchor ourselves in the truth as told by the Spirit of God, be it concerning the 21st century or the 19th century or any other century or epoch for that matter.

    It is remarkably simple but it needs time and conscientious interior cultivation to arrive at this place of anchoring our hearts where God would want them positioned relative to looking at and discerning the moral predicaments of any issue in any time.

    And that is also why we are so blessed to have the tradition of our Catholic faith to help us. That said, I will give utmost credence to Christopher Hallam for highlighting the truth about the difference between those who really live out their faith with genuine conviction and love, and those who are basically Christian or Catholic in name only and whilst the latter may be flawless at Sunday Mass attendance, they do not (like their counterparts called the Pharisees of Jesus’ own day) care for much insofar as using the interior wisdom of God for the compassionate ends it is meant to be used for.

    This is not to say LJ that everything you have said is untrue for much of what you have said is true – that it is an undeniable hard-core fact that some anti-Church interests within certain channels of the contemporary secular media have been virulent in trying to use this issue of these radar findings to scapegoat the Catholic Church which frankly is hardly surprising and added to this, the devil and his cohorts have been working round the clock to try and swing the sentiment and spiritual favour of indigenous communities towards his side of the divide further plunging them into division and spiritual peril. This is a tragic thing and we need to be understanding that there is a fierce spiritual battle being waged here and that such battles produce certain symptoms in the temporal that are reflective or indicative of the behind-the-scenes spiritual interests at work. But we have to take heart and not be rendered powerless by all of this in our thinking and outlook. And therefore we need to take up that sword of the Spirit alluded to by St Paul in Ephesians Ch.6 and use it in our daily fight for the right to life, against the culture of death both in our personal lives and in our publically interactive lives.

  11. The entire point of concern here is firstly were there actually crimes in the magnitude suggested through the Media? If so, then use our civilized court system of the 21st Century to prove it beyound a reasonable doubt! In the interim STOP these billions and billions of our Canadian dollars from being sent to these complaining tribes. Put the money in a trust fund but do not pay another dime out until the process is completed. I can’t believe the majority of who I believe to be intelligent Canadian citizens are buying what is simply “snake oil” in believing it is true! I and many that I have talked to have had enough of this “poor me and send me money first” that our Federal Government is authorizing.

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. No remains unearthed yet from Canada’s residential school grave sites – Via Nova Media
  2. No remains unearthed yet from Canada’s residential school grave sites – Catholic World Report – The Old Roman
  3. Aucun reste n'a encore été déterré des tombes des pensionnats
  4. No bodies found at alleged site of unmarked graves after native tribe has Catholic church basement dug up - Patriot Daily Press

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