Dana Kennedy, New York Post, August 31, 2023
After two years of horror stories about the alleged mass graves of Indigenous children at residential schools across Canada, a series of recent excavations at suspected sites has turned up no human remains.
“I don’t like to use the word hoax because it’s too strong but there are also too many falsehoods circulating about this issue with no evidence,” Jacques Rouillard, a professor emeritus in the Department of History at the Université de Montréal, told The Post Wednesday.
In May 2021, the leaders of the British Columbia First Nation Band Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announced the discovery of a mass grave of more than 200 Indigenous children detected via ground-penetrating radar at a residential school in British Columbia. The radar found “anomalies” in the soil but no proof of actual human remains.
Within days of the Kamloops announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decreed, partly at the request of tribal leaders, that all flags on federal buildings fly at half-staff. The Canadian government and provincial authorities pledged about $320 million to fund more research and in December pledged another $40 billion involving First Nations child-welfare claim settlements that partially compensate some residential school attendees.
Pope Francis issued a formal apology on behalf of the Catholic Church, which ran many of the residential school facilities, and asked for God’s forgiveness.
A number of writers, academics and politicians like Rouillard have come out cautioning against the claim that hundreds or thousands of children are buried at the school, but they have been labeled “genocide deniers” — even though many of the skeptics do not dispute that conditions at the schools were often harsh.
“The evidence does not support the overall gruesome narrative put forward around the world for several years, a narrative for which verifiable evidence has been scarce, or non-existent,” James C. McCrae, a former attorney general for Manitoba, wrote in an essay published last year.