Indian Residential Schools Resources – Unmarked Graves

Indian Residential Schools – Resources

Unmarked Graves

The “discovery” of the unmarked graves associated with the Kamloops Residential School in May 2021 has sparked another wave of criticism of the Canadian government and the Christian churches, particularly the Catholic Church, hired to run the schools.

There seem to be two main differences this time compared to 2010 when the Truth and Reconciliation hearings began in Canada. The most important is the visibility of the Critical Social Justice (“Woke”) perspective of Native activists and main stream media reporting on these issues. The second is the vandalism, including arson, of churches not only across Canada but also in other countries.

The parallels with the emergence of Critical Race Theory into the public square with the death of George Floyd in the US exactly one year earlier should be noted as must the unwitting acquiescence of government and Church leaders to the Woke narrative in the form of apologies, restitution, etc., in the increasingly frequent number of cases where they do not advance the putative goals of truth and reconciliation.

What these goals actually are should now be more obvious – the anachronistic obfuscation of the historical record, the denigration of the intentions of government and Church leaders, and the increase in tension between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

The following sample of resources is an effort to contribute to the clarification of these sad and complex issues.


  1. Pope Francis Visit to Canada
  2. Re-examing A Year Later
  3. Overview / Context
  4. Responses from Canadian Church Leaders
  5. Renewed Call for Papal Apology & Delegation
  6. Statements from Indigenous Leaders
  7. Personal Stories
  8. Assertions of Genocide
  9. Continuing Reconciliation
  10. Sample Reporting on Vandalized Churches

1. Pope Francis Visit to Canada

Amid a reckoning, Pope Francis shares prospect of hope, Fr. Raymond J. D’Souza (July 26, 2022)
Pope Francis brought what he could offer, his words, his presence, his apology. But he pointed toward what Christians are supposed to bring, an encounter with Christ’s grace

Pope Francis Apologizes for the Harm Done to Indigenous Canadians at Residential Schools,

2. Re-examining A Year Later

The year of the graves: How the world’s media got it wrong on residential school graves, Terry Glavin (May 26, 2022)
The coverage triggered protests, church arsons and condemnation from Canada’s bad-faith rivals, but last summer’s reporting on the country’s long-acknowledged historic shame had little to do with what happened. Terry Glavin reports.

Truth and Native Abuse, Hymie Rubenstein (June 16, 2022)

Re-Examining The Story Of Indigenous And Non-Indigenous Canadians, James Pew (July 1, 2022)

3. Overview / Context

Can We Discuss Those Unmarked Graves? (July 10, 2021)
This SAFS Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship and Frontier Centre for Public Policy discussion features Frances Widdowson, Brian Giesbrecht, and Rodney Clifton. All were contributors to Rodney Clifton and Mark DeWolf’s edited volume “From Truth Comes Reconciliation: Assessing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report” available on Amazon.

Teaching the Residential School Story, Brian Giesbrecht (November 2, 2017)

Conrad Black: Facing the past to resolve some of Canada’s most intractable issues (March 28, 2021)
The policy debate surrounding Native people absolutely must be taken away from the victim industry and radically reformulated

Myth versus Evidence: Your Choice (PDF) (March 2018)
Cultural repression, abuse of all kinds, forcible incarceration, and even preventable deaths did happen…but…Far more significant factors [than the residential schools] have created — and perpetuate — the many problems faced by First Nations people today.

The graves were never a secret: Why so many residential school cemeteries remain unmarked
Indian Affairs refused to ship home children’s bodies because of the cost; it follows that most were buried on or near school grounds (June 2, 2021)

The Kamloops Cemetery – Brian Giesbrecht (June 6, 2021)

Indian Residential Schools – Brian Holdsworth (June 11, 2021)

Life at Residential School (CBC Archives)
“This 1962 TV special shows daily life at the Roman Catholic-run Kamloops Indian Residential School. About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were forced to attend the government-funded residential schools from the 19th century to 1996, when the last one closed. They lived in substandard conditions and endured sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. The system was “cultural genocide,” said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015.”

Jumping to Conclusions Without Facts (Summary of Dr. Hamilton’s Report)
Sensible persons in Canada can no longer believe or be influenced by the media, since it has proven itself to be undeserving of either confidence or respect. (June 21, 2021)

More Indigenous family separations now than during residential schools, advocate says. (June 27, 2021)

‘We knew it was there’: Former B.C. chief says unmarked graves near Cranbrook need more context (July 1, 2021)

Catholic Churches are Burning Down – Brian Holdsworth (July 2, 2021)

Terry Glavin: Canada’s early Christian prophets were Indigenous. Now someone’s destroying their churches (July 7, 2021)
As pyres have been made of sturdy little churches built by First Nations, the sneering of all those white ‘allies’ is the thing to notice.

Douglas Farrow: The History of Canada’s Residential Schools (July 10, 2021)

MALCOLM: It’s important to bring accuracy to residential school graves conversation (July 12, 2021)
“This is true truth and reconciliation,” said Chief Delorme in 2019 – referring to a church donation of $70K to the Cowessess Band)

Rex Murphy: Why is it OK to harm Christian places of worship in Canada? (July 12, 2021)
If 10 or 20 holy places from any other major religion had been attacked, what would have been the reaction from governments and the media?

4. Responses from Canadian Church Leaders

Expression of Commitment – Archbishop Michael Miller, Archdiocese of Vancouver (June 2, 2021)

Statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto (June 3, 2021)

Ottawa Archbishop Apologizes for Church’s Role in Canada’s Residential Schools (June 17, 2021)

Statement from the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the Saskatchewan “Catholic TRC Healing Response Appeal (July 16, 2021)

B.C. bishops announce fundraising appeal for reconciliation this fall (July 26, 2021)

5. Renewed Call for Papal Apology & Delegation

Fr. Raymond de Souza: Let’s set record straight on papal apologies (June 16, 2021)

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) Statement – Date of the Delegation to the Holy See (June 29, 2021)

Indigenous leaders secure papal audience to set stage for residential school apology (June 29, 2021)

6. Statements from Indigenous Leaders

LSIB Chief and Council response to Chopaka Lady of our Lourdes Church and the Hedley St. Anne’s Church Fire (June 26, 2021)

7. Personal Stories

Tomson Highway Has A Surprisingly Positive Take On Residential Schools (December 15, 2015)
“There are many very successful people today that went to those schools and have brilliant careers and are very functional people, very happy people like myself.”

Douglas Todd: With anger and prayer, First Nation Catholics have distinct take on residential schools (June 10, 2021)
A grieving First Nations deacon has a rebuttal to activists’ arguments that by remaining Catholic he’s merely a stooge of settler colonialists.

Reality in Truth and Reconciliation (June 16, 2021)
In this homily, Father Cristino Bouvette says the enduring faith of his Indigenous grandmother shows that the real peace of Christ heals even the torments of residential schools.

Global News Interview with Fr. Cristino Bouvette (July 5, 2021)

Rescued from the memory hole: Some First Nations people loved their residential schools (June 28, 2021)
World-renowned Cree playwright Tomson Highway testified to having had good experiences at one such school.

8. Assertions of Genocide

Balancing the biased “Genocide” Story About Residential Schools (May 31, 2018)

Is Canada Guilty of Genocide? (July 20, 2021)

Conrad Black: Centuries of failed policy does not equal evil intent (July 17, 2021)
We have to make up for our mistakes, our condescension, and at times our nastiness, but not for evil intent and particularly not genocidal ambitions of any kind.

Barbara Kay: Historical association’s genocide statement ‘brazenly unscholarly’ (August 16, 2021)
Dissenting historians deny there is a ‘broad consensus’ among members that Canada’s treatment of its Indigenous peoples was genocidal

9. Continuing Reconciliation

Archdiocese of Vancouver

Diocese of Saskatoon

Archdiocese of Toronto Building Plan to Aid Residential School Survivors (July 19, 2021)

10. Sample Reporting on Vandalized Churches

Century-old Catholic church in Morinville, Alta., destroyed by fire (June 30, 2021)

Church fire on Sipekne’katik First Nation deemed suspicious, say RCMP (June 30, 2021)

Fire at Catholic church on Siksika First Nation land may have been intentionally set (June 28, 2021)

Minimal damage as suspicious fire probed at abandoned church in northwestern B.C. (June 28, 2021)

Overnight fires destroy 2 Catholic churches in Okanagan (June 21, 2021)

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