The Great Canadian Hoax Exposed

Book Review – Colin Alexander - Grave Error: How the Media Misled Us (and the Truth about Residential Schools) (2 of 2)

Grave Error: How The Media Misled Us (and the Truth about Residential Schools) edited by C.P. Champion and Tom Flanagan, Truth North and Dorchester Review, 343pp, $21.99) is a companion volume to Frontier’s From Truth Comes Reconciliation, which was published in 2021 (second edition is forthcoming). The two reviews published here are by Colin Alexander and Peter Best. The book demonstrates that there is no forensic evidence of Indian Residential School children that have been murdered and buried in residential school yards. There are a number of reasons for not believing the claim that children were murdered in these schools. Canadians are anxious to know the truth about the schools, and this book along with Frontier’s book go a long way to dispel the myths that have developed about the murder of residential school children. The book has been a top seller on Amazon since it was published in early January 2024.

 

This scholarly book of essays demolishes the narrative that any children went missing from Indian residential schools (IRS), let alone thousands, or that there are mass graves. Grave Error, in fact, debunks what essayist Jonathan Kay calls “a media-fuelled social panic over unmarked graves.” Mainstream media around the world—not just in Canada—ran with this press release issued on May 27, 2021:

This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar [GPR] specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings became known – the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School [KRS]. …

To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” stated Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir. “Some were as young as three years old. …

Mainstream news media and politicians took the press release to heart, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lowering flags on federal buildings to half-mast for six long months. So debauched have the Enlightenment’s principles of inquiry become, along with those of responsible journalism, that it took outsiders to question the truth of this release.

Yes, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) found disturbed ground in the orchard near the school. That is because the land had buried drainage tiles from a septic system that had been installed in 1924. In any case, except for orphans and those whose upbringing was beyond their parents’ capacity, the IRS required a minimum age of six for admission.

No children were murdered and buried surreptitiously at night. Schools were paid on a headcount of children, so there was not a single name unaccounted for. There is a death certificate for every death, with burials either in the nearby cemetery or returned to their reserves. TB and other communicable diseases rampant everywhere caused most IRS deaths a century ago. Since the introduction of antibiotics, the death toll has been much lower. Many graves in recognized cemeteries are unmarked because the customarily used wooden crosses deteriorated over time. Despite that, in December 2021, Canadian Press called unmarked graves the story of the year!

Len Marchand’s autobiography, Breaking the Trail, provides an antidote for the horror stories at KRS. A former attendee during the time of the alleged murders and burials, he became Canada’s first Indigenous cabinet minister. The worst he says of his time there was that meals included mushy potatoes.

Essayist Ian Gentles says the juggernaut of misinformation began with the CBC program The Journal on October 30, 1990. Interviewed by Barbara Frum, Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, said he had been physically and sexually abused at his school. This led to a tsunami of former IRS attendees asserting similar allegations. Unfortunately, Ms. Frum did not ask who perpetrated the abuse, whether staff or fellow students. Or why he did not make a complaint to the police. I emailed Mr. Fontaine asking those questions but without receiving an answer.

Some essayists accept the proposition that there were real atrocities. I am not sure they were widespread. There were only a few successful prosecutions reported by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There are probably some abuses at boarding schools. Was it really an atrocity to cut an IRS attendee’s hair on arrival or to exchange a uniform for an orange shirt? Essayist and former staff member at Stringer Hall in Inuvik, Rodney Clifton, has described children on their return after the summer break with their families. They were often in poor physical condition, and some were still wearing the clothing, unwashed in the meantime, that they left the school with.

Essayist Tom Flanagan scores a bull’s-eye when quoting John Ioannidis, medical researcher at Stanford University: “The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.” With money almost unlimited for Indigenous issues, a multi-billion-dollar industry has grown out of pleading for money and telling Indigenous youth to feel sorry for themselves. By extension, the industry has prospered from laying guilt on schoolchildren and taxpayers. As shown in Lonely Death of an Ojibwa Boy by Robert MacBain, that includes what I construe to be a fraud, the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack charity.

I also disagree with essayists saying the Indigenous were dealt a bad hand, let alone that they need new treaties. What about the previously downtrodden Asian Canadians who have surpassed their white counterparts in incomes? Yes, Canada welcomed Indians into the armed forces for the Boer Wars and the two World Wars, only to treat them like dirt when the wars ended. But today there has been a role-reversal. Now Indigenous leaders can say whatever they want, and no one calls them out on saying outrageous things.

To me, the failure of Canada’s Indigenous policy derives from the excesses of the welfare state which, since the demise of the fur trade, destroyed self-reliance and work ethic—Indigenous cultures were destroyed, if you will. Now Canadians kowtow to demands for renewed tribalism and self-determination resembling South Africa’s apartheid. That would give leaders prestige and money for doing little. For followers, it connotes marginalization and second-class citizenship. No one is considering the needs of next generations living in violence-wracked settlements having no economic reason to exist, and in urban slums. It eludes notice that those who are educated and skilled and engaged in or preparing for rewarding employment seldom become addicts or commit suicide, and they seldom go to jail.

The billions paid out for the IRS and mass graves hoaxes are not delivering acceptable housing or any other help that works. I know an unemployed and all but unemployable Inuk who got a cheque for $95,000 in April 2023. By July he had blown it all and was again scrounging for cigarettes. Many billions add to GDP and salve a nation’s conscience. But enriching prostitutes and drug dealers does not address real needs.

That said, there are templates, notably in Asia, for raising Third World peoples into the First World in a single generation. I recommend Grave Error as a starting point for radically different thinking about what needs to be done to help Indigenous Canadians succeed in our country.

 

 

Colin Alexander was publisher of the Yellowknife News of the North for many years, and the advisor on education for Ontario’s Royal Commission on the Northern Environment. His latest book is Justice on Trial: Jordan Peterson’s case and others show we need to fix a broken legal system.

 

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