The grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School are seen June 6, 2021, which was run from 1890-1969 by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. CNS photo/Jennifer Gauthier, Reuters

Incinerated children claims 'truly laughable'

  • June 5, 2024

Skeptics of the “mass graves” narrative took notice of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (Ttes) First Nation’s recent statement commemorating the discovery of “215 anomalies” at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on May 27, 2021.

“Anomalies” is a noticeable departure from the proclamation the First Nation shared three years ago and in the successive years. The office of the Chief stated that thanks to 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.”

An archaeological dig to discover the truth at the school has not received authorization. Excavations at other sites, including 34 on Alberta's Charles Camsell Hospital grounds, have uncovered zero bodies.

Strikingly, within days of the rhetorical pivot from “children” to “anomalies,” the head of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations floated another theory on why no human remains have ever been discovered on the grounds of former residential schools.  

“Some of these residential schools or these institutions also had incinerators, so there could be potential of not finding any remains of any children that have gone missing,” said Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Calgary Bishop emeritus Fred Henry has expressed many doubts about residential claims over the years, and he strongly rebuked Teegee’s theory.

“This new claim of incineration would be truly laughable if the matter were not so serious,” wrote Henry in an email to The Catholic Register. “What took the Chief so long to come up with this one? Makes me wonder what’s next?”

Devastating consequences have arisen from these unproven speculations. Over 100 Canadian Christian churches have been vandalized, damaged by fire or outright burned to the ground since the Kamloops' claim first came to light.

Increasingly, Canadian Catholics are demanding their bishops and priests show greater resolve in responding to rhetorical claims that spark anti-Catholic animus. Henry shared two letters he received recently from people in the pews. He did not share the identities of the people who corresponded with him.

One person wondered if he or she was “alone in feeling personally offended when the Church is accused of having committed a crime that proved to be an elaborate hoax?” Another writer noted how the “infamous residential school saga drags on with slight movements toward the revelation of truth wrought by the tireless work of lay historians, anthropologists and researchers while the shepherds sit, still maddeningly mute.”

A Calgary parishioner who formerly taught in the Catholic school system shared a letter he wrote to Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' (CCCB) president Bishop William McGrattan. The writer requested anonymity because of his trepidations with cancel culture.

In the letter, the Calgarian noted that “except for Kamloops, there have been excavations across Canada at many former IRS sites, and no remains have been found where knowledge-keepers said there would be. Of course, there were those expected to be found in well-known cemeteries. So, how do we keep the lie alive? Say the bodies were all incinerated!”

The letter writer also is praying “that the Canadian bishops and Catholic press meet the challenge of this threat to the Church's reputation and livelihood.”

The Calgary Catholic hopes McGrattan and his fellow bishops will respond.

“Will they make a statement in favour of freedom of speech if nothing else? The Pope did state — I did not like the fact that he used the word ‘genocide’ flying back to Rome (from Canada) — that this issue needs further study. There are people who are studying this. That is what Bishop Henry is suggesting. There is another way to look at this. It does not exonerate the Church and the Oblates for running the schools, but it gives it a more balanced look at all the Indigenous people who went there.”

Henry was shown the letter and expressed hope the writer would get a response. However, he wrote that “so far, letters to the CCCB and individual bishops go unanswered, and the fallout and anger are serious. It's time to take out the earplugs and listen — where synodality supposedly hits the road.”

Despite multiple attempts, The Register has yet to receive a response from McGrattan regarding the letter.

Canadian archbishops, notably Richard Smith of Edmonton and Donald Bolen of Regina, have said they will not comment on the investigation into unmarked graves and missing children until Canada’s independent special interlocutor Kimberly Murray finishes her final report. It was announced on May 31 that her mandate is extended to the fall. She was slated to share her findings on June 11-13 during the National Gathering on Unmarked Burials, which is now postponed.

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