Many hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children discovered at Canadian residential schools

The people who buried them (and/or oversaw those burials) presumably knew. This isn’t quite a nitpick: I don’t believe that those people “meant well”, whatever the time was.

I think it’s a big story also because it’s calling a lot of people’s attention to this – many of whom knew little or nothing about these schools before.

That’s true, the Canadian government is well aware these schools were a mistake and would have liked them forgotten.

Note that in Alaska, at least for a while, the US government had a somewhat more enlightened method. My grandparents were sent to Alaska to teach the native Eskimo*- in their own tribal areas. Yes, they were taught english, Reading, writing and also what was then (in the 1920’s or so) proper hygiene and western medicine (one had to be a nurse).

  • the Alaskan Eskimo have no issue with that term, while some of the Canadian tribes despise it.

Well think of the kids going to the school: if they saw 200 graves of the school’s students they may very well get very fearful that they are also going to die there.

That doesn’t explain not sending the bodies home to families.

And survivors report stories of unmarked graves; which doesn’t sound in the least like they weren’t fearful.

And were children in the wider Christian society generally buried in unmarked graves so as not to scare the others?

…and they had every right to have that fear.

The last residential school closed in 1997. As someone pointed out on Twitter, the TV show Friends was still on the air. This isn’t ancient history.

Here is the TRC final report.

Physical genocide. Biological genocide. Cultural genocide. "In its dealing with Aboriginal people, Canada did all these things."

This represents the worst of Canada. Although I do not think it is always wise to judge past figures using contemporary values, the fact is this is wrongheaded enough to significantly stain the reputations of figures like Langevin, Ryerson and Sir John A. I had sometimes wondered if the word “genocide” was overly melodramatic. It is now clear it is not - this was not just a cultural genocide. And it is very sad indeed. It is clear the government has not made sufficient progress on the Calls to Action of the Reconciliation Committee.

There is a long history of not bothering to mark the graves of people who don’t matter much, with the definition of “don’t matter much” depending on the times and situations.

For example, I live not too far away from the site of the former Topeka State Hospital (founded in 1872 as the Kansas State Insane Asylum). On the grounds is a cemetery for deceased patients, in use at least up through the 1950s. More than 1100 people are buried there, of whom maybe a dozen have tombstones. For all of them, the names are known, they were mostly adults, and the majority were white, but their grave is simply listed as something like “269 feet west of the marker for row 2.” They were adjudged mentally ill, so their families rarely wanted their remains and they weren’t considered “worth” a tombstone.

Pauper’s cemeteries, prison cemeteries, and others catering to societal outcasts are likewise full of unmarked graves. Hart Island in New York City has probably a million graves; most are in mass graves, being primarily paupers, the homeless, people whose family didn’t claim them, stillborn infants, etc.

As a Canadian I would be flabbergasted if many did not know about residential schools. And even if that was the case we (Canadians) should regard the Catholic Church with suspicion as sexual abuse allegations have been prominent since the '90s (or earlier) in Catholic orphanages and associated schools and churches since then.

Our governments and the non-indigenous population have paid lip-service to this, have been ignoring it, and been apologists for the Catholic church.

It’s not a situation of “making it worse than it is” because it is but one part of a global child abuse scandal conducted and hidden by the Catholic Church. It is tragically intertwined with our (Canada’s) treatment of those from whom we stole half a continent and have continued to treat like crap (think of unhealthy water systems and murdered and missing Indian and children).

And I completely agree with DWMarch about SWAT teams. Back in 2008 or 2009 I commented to a CBC article that the UN should coordinate a global legal take-over of all Catholic properties and deal with that church as police would deal with Enron or any other large multi-national. CBC moderators wouldn’t post it btw.

And it continues. Our PM said today 'As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed by the position that the Catholic Church has taken now and over the past many years". Seriously? Religion’s a choice and any practicing Catholic is enabling child abuse. Our government has had years to deal with the residential schools issues, as well as other indigenous issues.

Our govt has also resisted compensating survivors as indicated by one example
"Ottawa also fought compensation claims for instances when St. Anne’s survivors were forced to eat their own vomit.

St. Anne’s survivor Edmund Metatawabin, the former chief of Fort Albany First Nation, said he is aware of instances where survivors did not get compensation for suffering caused by the electric chair or for being forced to eat their own vomit."

This could have and should have been resolved years ago and, with the exception of the recently discovered mass graves, this has not been a secret. I have also had numerous conversations with people about taking appropriate legal action against the church and heard, numerous times, “you can’t do that, it’s the church!”

FFS, there’s nothing special about the church and a bloody, international take-down should be executed.

Does the Catholic Church actually have a worse record than other institutions, though? They have a larger record, merely because they operated more schools and orphanages than anybody else, but Haut de la Garenne and the Dozier School stand as ample proof that secular authorities can be no better.

Are you saying that you think those children “don’t matter much”? They mattered at least as much as the people who decided that they didn’t matter.

The fact that there’s a long history of people treating others as if they “don’t matter much” does not make it right. It’s still despicable.

Not too far from me, they’re finally getting names on similar graves. Those people mattered, too.

No, I am NOT saying they didn’t matter to me. (Thank you for clipping the rest of that sentence, which read in its entirety: “There is a long history of not bothering to mark the graves of people who don’t matter much, with the definition of ‘don’t matter much’ depending on the times and situations.”) I also did not say the long history made it right; it merely made what happened at Kamloops not unique. EVERY society has had its outcasts and forgotten people. However despicable you think it, the overwhelming majority of all the humans who have ever lived on earth have no grave marker; outside of North America, a permanent monument is not common even today.

No, they’re working on releasing the names, for “possible future monuments that would inscribe the names.” Maybe those future plans will come to fruition, maybe they won’t.

(Back in the day, before mental illness was well understood, it was fairly common for family to drop off relatives at the insane asylum and tell the neighbors that Sis or Aunt Mattie had died, it being considered deeply shameful to have family in the asylum. That is a major reason that pretty much every mental hospital with a long history has a large cemetery.)

Until very recently (we’re talking months), I had no idea just how rampant the prejudice and discrimination against Canadian First Nations people continues to be, to this day.

…nope. We aren’t talking about outcasts and we aren’t talking about forgotten people. We are talking about children who were stolen from families and communities, and those families and communities have never ever forgotten about them. They grieve for the children that were taken and never came home. Thousands disappeared into the system. The way you are characterizing this is completely inaccurate.

According to various sources, there were about 139 residential schools in Canada. 60% run by the RC Church. In addition - 15 were run by the United Church of Canada, and 11 by the Presbyterian Church of Canada.

No, it is NOT inaccurate. First Nations kids in the residential school system were as important and worthy of remembrance to Canadian society as New York homeless people are to residents of the Big Apple, or inmates of prisons and juvenile facilities and mental hospitals and orphanages , etc. That doesn’t mean they aren’t important to their families, but to the citizenry at large, absolutely they were forgotten.

That’s the point: these kids were not treated in some unique fashion but instead like all of the other “out of sight, out of mind” people.

…yeah it is. It really fucking is. They weren’t outcasts. They were kids. They weren’t forgotten. They were stolen.

Outcasts and forgotten were your words.

It was genocide.

“VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his pain over the discovery in Canada of the remains of 215 Indigenous students of church-run boarding schools and pressed religious and political authorities to shed light on “this sad affair.” But he didn’t offer the apology sought by the Canadian prime minister.
Francis, in remarks to faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, also called on the authorities to foster healing but made no reference to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s insistence, two days earlier, that the Vatican apologize and take responsibility.”

I know about the residential schools now, but certainly did not growing up. This was not a part of what I was taught in History or Political Science through my university days in the early 90s even as stories of abuse in the Catholic Church circulated.

Did Canadian society, at large and in the aggregate, remember them and give them attention, yes or no?

The answer is a firm and unequivocal NO. Ordinary Canadians, the people actually paying for this, were not thinking of destroying First Nations culture; they weren’t thinking of them at all. The kids were forgotten.

They did not deserve that fate, any more than the homeless or foster kids or the mentally ill deserve to be forgotten either. They were anyway, and largely still are.