How False Graves Claim is Used to Change Canadian Law

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — UNDRIP — became law in Canada on June 21 2021 under false pretences.   The widespread hysteria and guilt following […]
Published on February 23, 2024

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — UNDRIP — became law in Canada on June 21 2021 under false pretences.   The widespread hysteria and guilt following the news on May 27 2021 that graves containing the remains of 215 children had been discovered at Kamloops was used an an excuse to pass the divisive legislation. The results are already proving that Parliament made a serious mistake and must reverse course.

The news about bodies and graves being discovered at Kamloops was false. No graves, bodies or human remains were found. Only “soil disturbances” — in all probability from previous excavations — were detected by a junior academic, who had failed to research the previous excavations probably responsible for the disturbances.

UNDRIP meanwhile, had been debated for years. The countries most affected by the proposed racial legislation, namely Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US had all wisely decided that UNDRIP must remain an aspirational declaration only and should never become the law of the land.

Even Canada’s first indigenous justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, concluded that formal adoption of UNDRIP into Canadian law would be “unworkable.”

She was right. Harry Swain agreed. Swain was one of the most experienced Indian Affairs bureaucrats Canada has ever had. He served as a senior Indian Affairs official, including as deputy minister of Indian Affairs, under nine administrations.

Swain remained opposed to the adoption of UNDRIP. Over the course of years he clearly outlined the many cogent reasons why passing UNDRIP into law was not wise. He and other senior leaders believed, for example, that doing so would give tiny groups a virtual veto over resource development.

Many other writers (including this writer) have also written about the problems associated with granting a virtual veto on resource development to small, racially-based groups controlled by a few ideological leaders.

But the potential veto problem was only one of the many problems with UNDRIP. On a more fundamental level it also protected customs that have no place in a modern liberal democracy — including customs that are direct violations of Canada’s Charter of Rights.

During one exchange, Swain made this point rather dramatically. When he was being urged to change his mind about making it the law to protect tribal customs, he mischievously asked whether this would mean allowing west coast tribes to bring back slavery. They had traditionally practiced slavery since time immemorial. If it was to become law that tribal customs must be restored and protected would this not require allowing Haida and other tribes to once again practice the slavery that had been important institutions within their culture?

Swain was being mischievous, but the point he raised is legitimate. Not all cultural practices are good ones. Some are not. In fact, some are evil.

A clear example from another country in a different century was suttee. It was an ancient custom practiced in India for many hundreds of years whereby the widow of an important man who died would be burned alive on his funeral pyre. It took many years for the British government to rid India of this practice. In a famous exchange a British governor explains to a local leader, who insists that the governor should not interfere with local customs, that the British had a custom too — namely hanging anyone who burned a woman to death.

The governor made his point and suttee came to an end. This was definitely a case of “settler colonialists” imposing their will on an indigenous people. But it was definitely necessary for them to do so.

That was also the case for the Canadian government in BC. Indigenous slavery was a brutal practice that had to be stopped. Slaves were sometimes killed by a slave owner simply to show his power. In one tribe a chief had a special club that was only used to kill slaves for this purpose. (This was also a reason why potlatch was banned, as it was connected with slavery.)

Other brutal indigenous customs, such as the sun dance — during which warriors had their chests pierced with sharpened bones, and were suspended from rawhide thongs  placed through the wounds — also had to be disallowed. But most indigenous customs weren’t brutal or repugnant. They were simply leftovers from a hunter-gatherer past. Indigenous individuals and communities can preserve and practice as many of these customs as they care to.

But, here’s the thing: Every Canadian has the right to practice their ethnic customs. They don’t need government help to do so and they certainly don’t need a special law, such as UNDRIP. An Italian Canadian can choose to be as Italian as he or she cares to be. It is their personal choice. There is no law preventing them from doing that, but neither is there any special law specifically allowing them to do it or paying for the preservation of the cultural practice.

I mention Italian Canadians only because they number approximately the same as do indigenous Canadians. No ethnic group has special protection, or virtual veto power over legislation.

Except for indigenous Canadians. Thanks to UNDRIP indigenous Canadians are singled out for special — and I argue, totally unnecessary — treatment.

But UNDRIP has never really been about preserving customs. It has always been about money. Indigenous leaders have always known that it will eventually give them a virtual veto over the development of Canada’s vast resource potential — no matter what the Supreme Court says.

The 635 or so First Nations can then all demand a cut of the proceeds before any development can proceed. Instead of “owning” Canada’s resources, in the sense that every Canadian “owns” those resources, indigenous leaders want special entitlements for anyone born indigenous. Until now no Canadian leader has been foolish enough to give them that veto and those entitlements.

Until the Trudeau Liberals came along, that is. For reasons unclear to this writer, the Trudeau Liberals were always looking for an excuse to pass UNDRIP. The hysteria and guilt surrounding the false Kamloops graves claim gave them that excuse. They quickly passed UNDRIP while Canadians were mourning what they had been falsely lead to believe were 215 indigenous children killed and secretly buried at Kamloops.

Canadians now have the UNDRIP albatross hanging around our neck.

Soon, all of Canada can be expected to be facing demands for “co-management”, now happening in BC, the only province so far to formally adopt a provincial version of UNDRIP.

It is probable that — as in the case of BC — those “co-management” discussions are even now taking place behind closed doors in Ottawa.

The complete insanity of giving one tiny group of people a virtual veto over all development is now becoming apparent there and BC’s  Conservatives have vowed to fight for the repeal of the legislation.

We can expect the same to happen in the rest of Canada, when expensive law firms are harnessed by indigenous leaders. This might include demands for the outright transfer of large chunks of our country — such as the recent massive Nunavut devolution.

All of this is being done with absolutely no public consultation. These are changes of epic proportions and should require an opening of the Constitution at the least — and probably a referendum.

Instead, ordinary Canadians are being treated like mushrooms — kept in the dark and not given any say on decisions that will change Canada permanently.

UNDRIP was passed under the cloud of the false Kamloops claim, in the pursuit of the elusive “reconciliation” that is now used a smokescreen to achieve all indigenous objectives. (As was Parliament’s hastily passed motion equating residential schools with genocide.)

The Conservatives, six provinces and even many indigenous leaders urged the Trudeau Liberals to go slow and carefully consider the many profound implications of formally adopting UNDRIP. The Trudeau Liberals didn’t listen. As mentioned, it was quite obvious that the false Kamloops graves story gave them exactly the excuse they needed to rush it through.

The foolishness of adopting UNDRIP based on the false Kamloops graves story became immediately apparent on the international stage. Communist China ridiculed Canada’s criticism of its very real genocide of its Uighur people by throwing the false Kamloops “genocide” in Canada’s face.

The reality is that the UNDRIP and the genocide motion — both based on the false Kamloops claim — are ruining Canada’s international reputation, while severely hampering resource development at home. Meanwhile, it is doing nothing to solve the very real problems of Canada’s large indigenous underclass.

Unless these bad decisions are reversed, it will end with a much diminished, economically stunted Canada.

The next administration must reverse this impoverishment of Canada.

New Zealand has begun the difficult job of stripping away tribal rights.

Australia has also rejected the extension of race-based governance by voting down “The Voice” in their recent referendum.

Canada must begin this process too, before our country becomes unrecognizable.


Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and senior fellow at Frontier Centre for Public Policy. First published here.

Watch Brian on Return to Reason here.

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