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The Canadian Holocaust Genocide Of The Indian Peoples In Canada
The Canadian Holocaust
HIDDEN FROM HISTORY:
The Untold Story of the Genocide of Aboriginal Peoples by Church and State in Canada
A Summary of an Ongoing, Independent Inquiry into Canadian
By Rev. Kevin D. Annett, M.A., M.Div.
Published by The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, a public investigative body continuing the work of previous Tribunals into native residential schools:
Copyright @ The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, 2001
This Report may be reproduced in whole or in part provided that explicit acknowledgement is made of the authors and The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada.
Table of Contents
Introduction?The U.N. Convention on Genocide 10
Summary of Findings and Recommendations 65
Petition to Revenue Canada 106
Aims and Objectives of The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada 108
(Reference Note: The cover page document is from a report by Dr. Peter Bryce,
Jasper Joseph is a sixty-four year old native man from Port Hardy, British Columbia. His eyes still fill with tears when he remembers his cousins who were killed with lethal injections by staff at the Nanaimo Indian Hospital, in 1944.
"I was just eight, and theyíd shipped us down from the Anglican residential school in Alert Bay to the Nanaimo Indian Hospital, the one run by the United Church. They kept me isolated in a tiny room there for more than three years, like I was a lab rat, feeding me these pills, giving me shots that made me sick. Two of my cousins made a big fuss, screaming and fighting back all the time, so the nurses gave them shots, and they both died right away. It was done to silence them." (November 10, 2000)
Unlike post-war Germans, Canadians have yet to acknowledge, let alone repent from, the genocide that we inflicted on millions of conquered people: the aboriginal men, women and children who were deliberately exterminated by our racially supremacist churches and state.
As early as November, 1907, the Canadian press was acknowledging that the death rate within Indian residential schools exceeded 50% (aee Appendix, "Key Newspaper Articles"). And yet the reality of such a massacre has been wiped clean from public record and consciousness in Canada over the past decades. Small wonder; for that hidden history reveals a system whose aim was to destroy most native people by disease, relocation and outright murder, while "assimilating" a minority of collaborators who were trained to serve the genocidal system.
This history of purposeful genocide implicates every level of government in Canada, the RCMP, every mainline church, large corporations, and local police, doctors, and judges. The web of complicity in this killing machine was, and remains, so vast that its concealment has required an equally elaborate campaign of cover-up that has been engineered at the highest levels of power in our country; a cover-up that is continuing, especially now that eyewitnesses to murders and atrocities at the church-run native residential "schools" have come forward for the first time. For it was the residential "schools" that constituted the death camps of the Canadian Holocaust, and within their walls nearly one-half of all aboriginal children sent there by law died, or disappeared, according to the governmentís own statistics.
These 50,000 victims have vanished, as have their corpses, "like they never existed," according to one survivor. But they did exist; they were innocent children, and they were killed by beatings and torture, and after being deliberately exposed to tuberculosis and other diseases by paid employees of the churches and government, according to a "Final Solution" master plan devised by the Department of Indian Affairs and the Catholic and Protestant churches.
The term "Final Solution" was not coined by the Nazis, but by Indian Affairs Superintendent Duncan Campbell Scott in April of 1910 when he referred to how he envisioned the "Indian Problem" in Canada being resolved. Scott was describing planned murder when he came up with the expression, since he first used it in response to a concern raised by a west coast Indian Agent about the high level of deaths in the coastal residential schools. On April 12, 1910, Scott wrote,
"It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem." (Department of Indian Affairs Superintendent D.C. Scott to B.C. Indian Agent-General Major D. McKay, DIA Archives, RG 10 series).
With such official consent for manslaughter emanating from Ottawa, the churches responsible for annihilating natives on the ground felt emboldened and protected enough to declare full-scale war on non-Christian native peoples through the twentieth century. The casualties of that war were not only the 50,000 dead children of the residential schools, but the survivors, whose social condition today has been described by United Nations human rights groups as that of "a colonized people barely on the edge of survival, with all the trappings of a third-world society." (November 12, 1999). The Holocaust is continuing.
This report is the child of a six-year independent investigation into the hidden history of genocide against aboriginal peoples in Canada. It summarizes the testimonies, documents and other evidence that proves that Canadian churches, corporations, and the government are guilty of intentional genocide, in violation of the United Nations Convention on Genocide, which Canada ratified in 1952, and under which it is bound by international law.
This report is a collaborative effort of nearly thirty people. And yet some of its authors must remain anonymous, particularly its aboriginal contributors, whose lives have been threatened and who have been assaulted, denied jobs and evicted from their homes on Indian reserves because of their involvement in this investigation. As a former minister in one of the guilty institutions named in our inquiryóthe United Church of CanadaóI have been fired, blacklisted, threatened and publicly maligned by its officers for my attempts to uncover the story of the deaths of children at that churchís Alberni residential school. But, as they should know, lies and crucifixions have never stopped the truth from surviving.
Many people have sacrificed to produce this report, so that the world can learn of the Canadian Holocaust, and ensure that those responsible for it are brought to justice before the International Criminal Court. Beginning among native and low-income activists in Port Alberni, British Columbia, in the fall of 1994, this inquiry into crimes against humanity has continued in the face of death threats, assaults, and the resources of church and state in Canada. It is within the power of the reader to honour our sacrifice by sharing this story with others, and refusing to participate in the institutions which deliberately killed many thousands of children.
This is an ongoing story, for the murder of native people continues. The standard of living of Canadian Indians today ranks sixty-fourth in the world, below that of Mexico and Thailand (Globe and Mail, Oct. 12, 1998) In my former parish of Port Alberni, infant mortality among native families is as high as in Guatemala. On many occasions between the years 1992 and 1995, when I ministered there, I presided at the funerals of aboriginal babies who had died of malnutrition, pneumonia and other illnesses caused by poverty and substandard housing. It was common for me to deliver food to Port Alberni native families who had not eaten in days, and whose children could not even stand up because of hunger-induced exhaustion.
Such miserable conditions in one of the worldís richest nations are primarily caused by the systematic theft of native lands and resources by multinational corporations like the U.S. logging giant Weyerhauser, and corporate fishing monopolies like the Weston and Pattison groups. Sadly, this theft is enabled by governments, churches, and privileged native leaders on state-funded reserves.
The pattern for this oppression was in many ways laid in the native residential schools, where death and torture was the norm. Then, as now, the government of Canada deliberately concealed crimes committed by the churches. Typical in this sense is the statement of Indian Agent P.B. Ashbridge in his January, 1940 report concerning a fire at the United Churchís Ahousat residential school that was "probably deliberately set". Ashbridge wrote, "As this school was the property of, and conducted by, the Church, care was taken to avoid too close an inquiry." (P.D.Ashbridge to Indian Affairs Commissioner Major M. McKay, Jan. 26, 1940)
This history of official endorsement of, and collusion in, a century or more of crimes against Canadaís first peoples must not discourage us from uncovering the truth and bringing the perpetrators to justice. It is for this reason that we invite you to remember not only the 50,000 children who died in the residential school death camps, but the silent victims today who suffer in our midst for bread and justice. Let us stand with them, come what may. For as peace activist Phil Berrigan has said,
"If the powers of death need not step on your bodies to reach their intended victims, then a curse on your lives, and a curse on your religion."
(Rev.) Kevin D. Annett
Introduction (emphases are the authorsí)
1. As a signatory party to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (December 9, 1948), Canada is bound under international law to the terms of this Convention, which states, in part,
All five of the crimes constituting genocide, as defined in Article II of this Convention, occurred systematically and purposely in Canadian Indian Residential Schools for nearly a century, and cost the lives of at least 50,000 aboriginal children, according to statistics of the federal Department of Indian Affairs.
2. Under the Nuremburg Principles, adopted by the United Nations International Law Commission in 1950, the shield of national sovereignty does not protect those persons who engaged in acts of genocide. Nations are obligated to prosecute their own guilty citizens and cannot use the absence of domestic laws or legislation related to the crime as an excuse to avoid such prosecution.
In short, even if the crimes committed were not considered to be crimes by the perpetrators, or by the laws and practices of their countries, they are still considered to be crimes under the Genocide Convention, and the perpetrators must be prosecuted.
3. The International Criminal Court (ICC) of the United Nations, founded "in principle" in July, 1998 by 120 nations, including Canada, has, in theory, absolute jurisdiction over all crimes of genocide, and the power to prosecute those who engaged or engage in such crimes. Genocide is defined as one dimension of two broader categories: Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes, which under the ICC mandate now include rape, enforced pregnancy, forced prostitution and sexual violence, along with forcibly transferring populations to foreign territories. All of these crimes occurred in Canadian Indian residential Schools, and continue today among our native peoples.
Under the ICC mandate, genocide is defined as "manifestly unlawful per se," which prevents any defense of "following higher orders" or "unawareness of the illegality of an act" on the part of perpetrators of genocide. In fact, under the ICC mandate and international law, any person is automatically guilty by the very fact of being associated with a genocidal organization or system. That is, a bus driver who transported native children to a residential school, or a minister who remains associated with the church that ran the school, are presumed to be as guilty as the person who committed genocidal acts in that school simply by reason of association with the "murderous organization." (see Bibliography, "War Crimes: The Legacy of Nuremburg", by Tina Rosenberg, 1999)
Whether or not the ICC will actually be given the power to pursue and prosecute such criminals against humanity has yet to be demonstrated.
4. An international conference of The United Nations Human Rights Commission, held in Montreal, stated in March, 1999 that Canada "is in violation of international law in its treatment of its aboriginal people" and that the condition of natives in Canada is "the most pressing human rights issue facing Canadians." (The Vancouver Sun, April 10, 1999).
Article II: The intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group; namely, non-Christian aboriginal peoples in Canada.
The foundational purpose behind the more than one hundred Indian residential schools established in Canada by government legislation and administered by Protestant and Catholic churches was the deliberate and persistent eradication of aboriginal people and their culture, and the conversion of any surviving native people to Christianity.
This intent was enunciated in the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 in Upper Canada, and earlier, church-inspired legislation, which defined aboriginal culture as inferior, stripped native people of citizenship and subordinated them in a separate legal category from non-Indians. This Act served as the basis for the federal Indian Act of 1874, which recapitulated the legal and moral inferiority of aboriginals and established the residential school system.
The legal definition of an Indian as "an uncivilized person, destitute of the knowledge of God and of any fixed and clear belief in religion" (Revised Statutes of British Columbia, 1960), was established by these Acts and continues to the present day. Then, as now, aboriginals were considered legal and practical non-entities in their own land, and hence, inherently expendable.
This genocidal intent was restated time and again in government legislation, church statements, and the correspondence and records of missionaries, Indian agents and residential school officials. (see Documentation section) It was, indeed, the very raison díetre of the state-sanctioned Christian invasion of traditional native territories, and of the residential school system itself, which was established at the height of European expansionism, in the 1880ís, and persisted until 1984.
By definition, this aim was genocidal, for it planned and carried out the destruction of a religious and ethnic group: all those aboriginal people who would not convert to Christianity and be culturally extinguished. Non-Christian natives were the declared target of the residential schools, which practiced wholesale ethnic
As well, such "pagans" were the subject of government-funded sterilization programs administered at church-run hospitals and tuberculosis sanatoriums on Canadaís west coast. (see Article IId) According to an eyewitness, Ethel Wilson of Bella Bella, BC, a United Church missionary doctor, George Darby, deliberately sterilized non-Christian Indians between 1928 and 1962 at the R.W. Large Memorial Hospital in Bella Bella. Ms. Wilson, who is now deceased, stated in 1998,
Ed Martin, age 66, of Waglisla, BC, stated in 1998,
"I went to Doctor Darby to get a vasectomy, because we had too many kids to feed. But he said no, and he told me, ëYouíre a good Anglican, Ed. You have to have a lot of children. I only sterilize the pagans.í "(Testimony of Ed Martin to the IHRAAM Tribunal, June 12, 1998)
According to Christy White, a resident of Bella Bella, records of these government-funded sterilizations at the R.W. Large Hospital were deliberately destroyed in 1995 soon after a much-publicized police investigation was to open into residential school atrocities in British Columbia. Ms. White stated in 1998,
"I worked at the Bella Bella hospital, and I know that Barb Brown, one of the administrators there, dumped sterilization records at sea on two occasions. Some of the records were found washed up on the beach south of town. That was just after the cops opened their investigation into the schools, in the spring of 1995. They were covering their tracks. We all knew Ottawa was funding sterilizations, but we were told to keep quiet about it." (Testimony of Christy White to Kevin Annett, Aug. 12, 1998.)
Legislation permitting the sterilization of any residential school inmate was passed in BC in 1933, and in Alberta in 1928. (see "Sterilization Victims Urged to Come Forward" by Sabrina Whyatt, Windspeaker, August, 1998) The Sexual Sterilization Act of BC allowed a school Principal to permit the sterilization of any native person under his charge. As their legal guardian, the Principal could thus have any native child sterilized. Frequently, these sterilizations occurred to whole groups of native children when they reached puberty, in institutions like the Provincial Training School in Red Deer, Alberta, and the Ponoka Mental Hospital. (Testimony of former nurse Pat Taylor to Kevin Annett, January 13, 2000)
Of equal historical significance is the fact that the federal government passed legislation in 1920 making it mandatory for all native children in British Columbiaóthe west coast of which was the least Christianized area among aboriginals in Canadaóto attend residential schools, despite the fact that the same government had already acknowledged that the death rate due to communicable diseases was much higher in these schools, and that while there native children'sí "constitution is so weakened that they have no vitality to withstand disease." (A.W. Neill, West Coast Indian Agent, to Secretary of Indian Affairs, April 25, 1910)
That is, the Canadian government legally compelled the attendance of the most "pagan" and least assimilated of the native peoples in residential schools at precisely the time when the death rate in these schools had reached their pinnacle: about 40%, according to Indian Affairs officers like Dr. Peter Bryce. This fact alone suggests a genocidal intent towards non-Christian aboriginals.
That aboriginal people were deliberately killed in the residential schools is confirmed by eyewitness testimonies, government records and statements of Indian agents and tribal elders. It is also strongly suggested by the bare fact that the mortality level in residential schools averaged 40%, or more than 50,000 native children across Canada. (see Bibliography, The Report of Dr. Peter Bryce to Department of Indian Affairs Superintendent Duncan Campbell Scott, April, 1909).
The fact, as well, that this death rate stayed constant across the years, and within the schools and facilities of every denomination which ran themóRoman Catholic, United, Presbyterian or Anglicanósuggests that common conditions and policies were behind these deaths. For every second child to die in the residential school system eliminates the possibility that these deaths were merely accidental, or the actions of a few depraved individuals acting alone without protection.
As the Genocide Convention and the Nuremburg Principles make clear, creating the conditions that will kill off even one sector of a group of people is not only tantamount to genocide, but is considered to be intentional killing, since an entire institutional system is at work to destroy that group. The continuance of such a system does not require intent per se, since its killing-off of the targeted group quickly becomes automatic and routine, like a machine that has been switched on. This crucial point was made at the Nuremburg Trials, and it certainly pertains to the regime responsible for the Canadian residential school system.
Yet not only was this system inherently murderous, but it operated under the legal and structural conditions which encouraged, aided and abetted murder, and which were designed to conceal these crimes.
The residential schools were structured like concentration camps, on a hierarchical military basis under the absolute control of a Principal appointed jointly by church and state, and who was usually a clergyman. This Principal was even given legal guardianship rights over all students during the early 1930ís by the federal government, at least in west coast residential schools. This action by the government was highly unusual, considering that native people were by law the legal wards of the state, and had been so since the commencement of the Indian Act. And yet such absolute power of the school Principal over the lives of aboriginal students was a requirement of any system whose killing of aboriginals had to be disguised and later denied.
The mass murder of Jews under Hitler was masked under the disguise of war, since, according to a top Nazi official, "the Jewish question will have to be resolved only during the war, since it must be settled without having the entire world erupt in protest." (Franz Radenmacher, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 24, 1942)
In the same way, what Indian Affairs Superintendent Duncan Scott referred to as "The Final Solution of our Indian Problem" in 1910óthe legal eradication of aboriginals and their cultureóhad to occur under a mask of legitimacy; namely, the so-called "educating and civilizing" of a "lesser people." Surprisingly few Canadians, including critics of the residential school system, have been able to penetrate this fog of apparent "benevolent concern" that hid a murderous system.
The residential schools were constructed behind this deception in such a way that the deaths and atrocities that constitute genocide could be hidden and eventually explained. In the Canadian context, this meant a policy of gradual but deliberate extermination under a protective legal umbrella, administered by "legitimate and trusted" institutions: the mainline churches.
It should be clarified from the outset that the decisions concerning the residential schools, including those which caused the deaths of children and resulting cover-ups, were officially sanctioned by every level of the churches that ran them, and the government which created them. Only such sanction could have allowed the deaths to continue as they did, and the perpetrators to feel protected enough to operate with impunity for many years within the system, which they universally did. For, in the words of Simon Wiesenthal, referring to the Nazi death camps,"Where there is official approval, there can be no regret or apology."
This is perhaps the nub of the dilemma. Under Third Reich law, the Holocaust of the Jews was perfectly legal. Thus, not only was there no law under which the Nazi system and its leaders could be tried, but there was no moral basis within German society to condemn that Holocaust, since it was a legitimate necessity to most Germans. Justice in post-war Europe, therefore, had to be imposed from the outside, according to a completely new legal and moral system: the Nuremburg principle of "ex post facto justice," which means trying people for crimes that werenít crimes when they were committed.
If the Nazis had have won World War Two, this new system and notion of justiceólet alone any moral condemnation of the destruction of the Jewsówould obviously have been impossible, precisely as any systemic denunciation or prosecution of the genocide of Canadian aboriginals is impossible in Canada todayóand for the same reason.
The institutions which perpetrated this home-grown Canadian genocideó church, state and policeóare still intact, as is their general moral legitimacy, at least among the mainstream populace. Accordingly, within the mindset and legal regime of this dominant culture there exists no basis to expose or prosecute the system and criminals who killed and tortured native children in the residential schools, since that murder originated precisely within these present-day "legitimate" institutions and their foundation ideology of "Christian Superior Dominion." (see a description of this ideology in Steven Newcombeís work in the Bibliography).
Exposure to Diseases
In his report, Dr. Bryce claimed that Indian children were being systematically and deliberately killed in the residential schools. He cited an average mortality rate of between 35% and 60%, and alleged that staff and church officials were regularly withholding or falsifying records and other evidence of childrenís deaths.
Further, Dr. Bryce claimed that a primary means of killing native children was to deliberately expose them to communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, and then deny them any medical care or treatment, a practice actually referred to by top Anglican Church leaders in The Globe and Mail on May 29,1953. (see page 38) In the words of Dr. Bryce,
"I believe the conditions are being deliberately created in our residential schools to spread infectious diseasesÖ It is not unusual for children who are dying from consumption to be admitted to schools and housed alongside healthy children. This is a national crime."
In March, 1998, two native eyewitnesses who attended west coast residential schools, William and Mabel Sport of Nanaimo, BC, confirmed Dr. Bryceís allegation. Both of them claim to have been deliberately exposed to tuberculosis by staff at both a Catholic and a United Church residential school during the 1940ís (see photos).
"I was forced to sleep in the same bed with kids who were dying of tuberculosis. That was at the Catholic Christie residential school around 1942. They were trying to kill us off, and it nearly worked. They did the same thing at Protestant Indian schools, three kids to a bed, healthy ones with the dying." (Testimony of Mabel Sport to IHRAAM officers, Port Alberni, BC, March 31, 1998)
"Reverend Pitts, the Alberni school Principal, he forced me and eight other boys to eat this special food out of a different sort of can. It tasted really strange. And then all of us came down with tuberculosis. I was the only one to survive, ëcause my Dad broke into the school one night and got me out of there. All of the rest died from tuberculosis and they were never treated. Just left there to die. And their families were all told they had died of pneumonia.
Tribal elder George Harris of the Chemainus Nation on Vancouver Island confirms the Sportsí story.
"We were expendable. Our lives had no value. Whenever we got sick at the Kuper Island school we were completely ignored. My mother was even forced to sleep in the same bed with kids who had tuberculosis. That was common. The church people were trying to kill us off. Tuberculosis spread like wildfire among us because of the policy of infecting us. So many of us died from that, and from the food they made us eat, which was rancid and filled with bugs. Anything was permitted if it killed Indians. "(Testimony of George Harris to the IHRAAM Tribunal, June 12, 1998)
This policy of deliberately infecting children with diseases under unhealthy conditions originated at the highest level of power in Canada; a fact attested to by the response of Indian Superintendent Duncan Scott to Dr. Bryceís report. Scott, the top Indian Affairs official in Canada at the time, wrote to his BC counterpart in 1910:
"It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem." (DIA Superintendent D.C. Scott to BC Indian Agent-General Major D. McKay, April 12, 1910; emphasis is added)
Bill Seward of Nanaimo, BC, age 78, states,
"My sister Maggie was thrown from a three story window by a nun at the Kuper Island school, and she died. Everything was swept under the rug. No investigation was ever done. We couldnít hire a lawyer at the time, being Indians. So nothing was ever done." (Testimony of Bill Seward, Duncan, BC, August 13, 1998)
Diane Harris, Community Health Worker for the Chemainus Band Council on Vancouver Island, confirms accounts of the murders.
"We always hear stories of all the kids who were killed at Kuper Island. A graveyard for the babies of the priests and girls was right south of the school until it was dug up by the priests when the school closed in 1973. The nuns would abort babies and sometimes end up killing the mothers.
Harriett Nahanee, who attended the United Church school in Port Alberni between 1945 and 1950, states:
"I saw my friend Maisie Shaw kicked down a flight of stairs by Reverend Caldwell on Christmas Eve, 1946. She was crying for her mother. I was hiding under the stairs, and as I looked up I saw Caldwell kick her hard in the stomach and she came flying down. She lay there on the floor, not moving or breathing, her eyes wide open. Caldwell and a matron he was arguing with didnít even look at her. I never saw her again. Now the RCMP are claiming Maisie died of ëpneumoniaí. But I saw her killed by Caldwell. "(Testimony of Harriett Nahanee to Kevin Annett,North Vancouver, BC, December 11, 1995. See photos)
Evidence exists that active collusion from police, hospital officials, coroners, Indian Agents and even native leaders helped to conceal such murders. Local hospitals, particularly tuberculosis sanatoria connected to the United and Roman Catholic churches, served as "dumping grounds" for children'sí bodies and routinely provided false death certificates for murdered students.
In the case of Maisie Shaw, whom Harriett Nahanee saw killed on Christmas Eve, 1946, such a fabricated death certificate has been found: numbered D95610 in the B.C. Vital Statistics Section, and dated January 7, 1947. Its claims that Maisie Shawís body was treated at the Stevens Funeral Home in Port Alberni and buried in the Tseshaht reserve cemetery are flatly refuted by the records from both of these facilities, neither of which have a Maisie Shaw on record. (See Documentation).
This questionable "death certificate" alleges that Maisie died of pneumonia; such was a common assertion about children who were killed in residential schools. According to Audrey Rivers of the Squamish Indian reserve in North Vancouver, a young teenage boy named "Edmonds" was beaten to death by Sister Lucianne Trudeau, a nun at the Convent of the Child Jesus in North Vancouver, in 1951. Audrey and three other students carried the boyís body to a car after the murder. The corpse was taken to St. Paulís Hospital in Vancouveróa Catholic funded centre -and a certificate was issued listing "pneumonia" as the cause of death. None of the other witnesses wish to be publicly identified for fear of retribution from the Catholic church and the RCMP.
In the case of the United Churchís Alberni residential school, students who discovered dead bodies of other children faced serious retribution. One such witness, Harry Wilson of Bella Bella, BC, claims that he was expelled from the school, then hospitalized and drugged against his will, after finding the body of a dead girl in May, 1967.
Such retribution and threats against Harry Wilson have continued to the present day; a fact which has helped to expose not only an apparently massive cover-up of residential school murders but the complicity of native leaders themselves in these crimes, some of whom acted as informants and strong-arm "goons" for white administrators at these schools while they were students there. These collaborators are often referred to derisively by other school survivors as "the enforcers."
Two of these collaborators who attended the Alberni residential school, Ron Hamilton and Charlie Thompson of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council in Port Alberni, threatened Harry Wilsonís life at a public meeting in that town on March 31, 1998. In a sworn affidavit, Harry describes the incident:
"Just before I was to speak at the forum about the dead girl I found at the Alberni school, Ron Hamilton came to talk to me. He said, ëAre you going to talk about that dead girl at the school?í When I said yes, he said, ëI wouldnít if I were you. If you say anything about it, youíll be sorry.í
Sadly, the two-tiered system of collaborators and victims created among native students at the schools continues to the present, as some of the state-funded band council officialsóthemselves former collaboratorsóappear to have an interest in helping to suppress evidence and silence witnesses who would incriminate not only the murderers but themselves, as agents of the white administration.
Another Alberni student during the 1960ís, Dennis Tallio of the Hesquait Nation in Bella Bella, found a dead child on the grounds of the school, and faced similar retribution.
"I found a little body in the weeds of the school in the fall of 1965. We were playing soccer and found her. She was maybe eight or nine and looked like she had been there awhile. I told Andrews, the Principal, and he got really mad and told me never to tell anyone. No cops ever interviewed me about it. But I got threatened by Andrews that Iíd be in deep shit if I ever said anything. A Mountie came to the school a few months later and told me the same thing. I thought that was pretty strange: a cop telling me not to mention a dead body. "(Testimony of Dennis Tallio to IHRAAM officers, Vancouver, BC, February 3, 1998).
A majority of the witnesses who have shared their story with the authors, and at public Tribunals on the west coast, have described either seeing a murder or discovering a body at the residential school he or she attended. The body count, even according to the governmentís own figures, was enormously high. Where, then, are all these bodies? The deaths of thousands of students are not recorded in any of the school records, Indian Affairs files or other documentation submitted thus far in court cases or academic publications on the residential schools. Some 50,000 corpses have literally and officially gone missing.
This situation is, again, remarkably analogous to the Nazi regimeís policy of "Fog and Night" (Nacht und Nebel) by which both the person and the memory of the victims of that genocide were erased from public life and records. A similar "Fog and Night" has descended on the children who were killed or died in the Canadian residential schools: they have been erased from memory and record.
To have done this, the residential school system had to not only hide the evidence of murder but the bodies as well. The presence of secret gravesites of children killed at Catholic and Protestant schools in Sardis, Port Alberni, Kuper Island and Alert Bay has been attested to by numerous witnesses. These secret burial yards also contained the aborted fetuses and even small babies who were the offspring of priests and staff at the schools, according to the same witnesses. One of them, Ethel Wilson of Bella Bella, claims to have seen "rows and rows of tiny skeletons" in the foundation of the former Anglican residential school of St. Michaelís in Alert Bay, when a new school was built there in the 1960ís.
"There were several rows of them, all lined up neatly like it was a big cemetery. The skeletons had been found within one of the old walls of St. Mikeís school. None of them could have been very old, from their size. Now why would so many kids have been buried like that inside a wall, unless someone was trying to hide something?" (Testimony of Ethel Wilson to Kevin Annett, Vancouver, BC, August 8, 1998).
An actual student at St. Michaelís in the 1950ís, Vera Hunt of Bella Bella, confirms that children were being buried on the schoolís premises. She states,
"All of us used to talk of the kids who would disappear and of the bodies down in the basement. It wasnít a surprise at all when those skeletons were found under the floor of the old school in the sixties. Barbara Hanuse of Campbell River knows the whole story. We all knew weíd end up like those poor kids unless we defended ourselves against the staff, so I was taught how to use a knife when I was only ten." (Testimony of Vera Hunt, May 23, 1998).
Hazel Joseph, who attended the Alberni school between 1941 and 1950, describes a "cold room" in its basement where children'sí bodies were stored.
"I found out about it when I saw none of the other children walking on a certain piece of the school ground behind the main building. In our tradition, you must never walk on a grave. That place they wouldnít walk was just above the underground tunnel connecting the dorms with Caldwell Hall. We were told never to go down there, but one of the older girls told me that she had seen bodies of kids in a cold room down there when she was scrubbing one day." (Testimony of Hazel Joseph to Kevin Annett, Vancouver, BC, December 1, 1996).
Several secret burial sites were located south of the Catholic school on Kuper Island. According to former student Dennis Charlie of the Penelakut Nation of Duncan, BC,
"There were a bunch of unmarked graves right near the school. Those were kids who had been killed at the school by the priests. I know because it happened to my brother John. He was hit in the head with a metal chain by one of the priests and he was left to die on the ground. Nothing was done for him so that the priest wouldnít get in trouble. They just killed him and told our parents that he had died accidentally. Then they put him in the unmarked graves area. They told me that Iíd ëget the sameí if I ever told anybody." (Testimony of Dennis Charlie to Kevin Annett, Duncan, BC, August 13, 1998).
Arnold Sylvester, who like Dennis Charlie attended Kuper Island school between 1939 and 1945, corroborates this account.
"The priests dug up the secret gravesite in a real hurry around 1972, when the school closed. No-one was allowed to watch them dig up those remains. I think itís because that was a specially secret graveyard where the bodies of the pregnant girls were buried. Some of the girls who got pregnant from the priests were actually killed because they threatened to talk. They were sometimes shipped out and sometimes just disappeared. We werenít allowed to talk about this."(Testimony of Arnold Sylvester to Kevin Annett, Duncan, BC, August 13, 1998).
Local hospitals were also used as a dumping ground for childrenís bodies, as in the case of the Edmonds boy and his "processing" at St. Paulís Hospital after his murder at the Catholic school in North Vancouver. Certain hospitals, however, seem to have been particularly favourite spots for storing corpses.
The Nanaimo Tuberculosis Hospital (called "The Indian Hospital") was one such facility. Under the guise of tuberculosis treatment, generations of native children and adults were subjected to medical experiments and sexual sterilizations at the Nanaimo hospital, according to women who experienced these tortures. (See Article IId) But the facility was also a cold storage area for native corpses.
Hazel Joseph claims,
"My cousin Doris from Port Renfrew was sterilized in the Nanaimo Indian Hospital in the late 1960ís. But while she was in there she saw the bodies of young children being brought in on gurneys at night and kept in a storage room at the back of the women'sí ward. That was a regular thing." (Testimony of Hazel Joseph to Kevin Annett, December 2, 1996).
The West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni not only stored childrenís bodies from the local United Church residential school; it was also the place where abortions were performed on native girls who were made pregnant at the school by staff and clergy, and where newborn babies were disposed of and possibly killed, according to witnesses like Amy Tallio, who attended the Alberni school during the early 1950ís.
"A girl who got pregnant when I was at Alberni was taken off in the middle of the night. She came back days later without the baby and sheíd cry for nights, ëWhereís my baby? What have you done with it?í I asked Mrs. Fraile, one of the matrons, about the baby, and she got outraged and screamed at me, ëYouíll be sorry if you ever mention that baby again!í" (Testimony of Amy Tallio to the IHRAAM Tribunal, June 13, 1998).
Irene Starr of the Hesquait Nation, who attended the Alberni school between 1952 and 1961, confirms this account.
"Many girls got pregnant at the Alberni school. The fathers were the staff, teachers, the ones who raped them. We never knew what happened to the babies, but they were always disappearing. The pregnant girls were taken to the Alberni hospital and then came back without their babies. Always. The staff killed those babies to cover their tracks. They were paid by the church and government to be rapists and murderers." (Testimony of Irene Starr to Kevin Annett, Vancouver, BC, August 23, 1998).
The murderers of native children acted with impunity, knowing that they were protected by law, cooperative policemen and doctors, and the official sanction of church and state. They never expected to be caught, for an entire system of "Fog and Night" was in place to dispose of their victims and alter records to cover their bloody tracks; a system which continues its grisly task.
As Belvy Breber of the Halalt Nation on Vancouver Island describes,
"My brother, Richard Thomas, was murdered at the Kuper Island school in 1964. He was killed by Principal Dunlop and a priest, Terry MacNamara, because he knew of all the horror there and he was going to talk. He told me so. Then a day later he was found, hanging dead in the school gym. And MacNamara made every child in the school walk by Richardís body while it was still hanging there, and he told them, ëThis will happen to you if you say anything.í MacNamara lives up in Prince Rupert now.
Article II (b): Causing serious bodily or mental harm
"Nobody went through the residential schools without getting damaged, even the stool pigeons. The whole point of the schools was to destroy us; at least, the ones who couldnít be changed or bought off."
"They gave us maggots to eat in our food. And we all ate those maggots, ëcause they turned us into good tin soldiers, trained to follow orders. They brainwashed me very quick. I forgot to speak my own language. I forgot who I was."
Early in the residential schools era, the Indian Affairs Superintendent, Duncan Campbell Scott, outlined the purpose of the schools thus: "to kill the Indian within the Indian." Such violent language was not accidental, nor inaccurate, for it legitimated and encouraged an "open season" on native people across Canada that would not only kill tens of thousands of aboriginals but destroy much of their distinctive spirit and culture, indeed their very "Indianness".
Clearly, the genocidal assault on aboriginals was not only physical, but spiritual: European culture wished to own the minds and the souls of the native nations, to turn the Indians it hadnít killed into third-class replicas of white people.
This goal has never been a problem for "Christian society" and its members; a fact which explains how the residential schools Holocaust stayed "hidden" for so long, and why even now it is being treated as essentially a matter of "compensating" some Indians for various "abuses". For, like any conquering people, Euro-Canadian culture cannot see itself for what it is and indict itself, anymore than a victorious Nazi regime could have reversed its own murderous legacy: because it would not have seen anything fundamentally wrong in its annihilation of the Jews.
Christian European culture in Canada still sees nothing fundamentally wrong with its invasion and occupation of the New World and its destruction of aboriginal societies; it simply regrets the "excesses" of that process. No wing within any of the mainline Canadian churches is challenging the Christian missionary effort per se, merely aspects of it, such as the sadism of particular school staff, or the "cultural insensitivity" of missionaries to First Nations.
Such conformity to the imperial purpose is to be expected within the dominant culture. Even the so-called "progressive" elements in German society under Hitler, including liberal Christians like Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, considered that Jews had to be converted to Christianity and forced to surrender their distinctive religion and culture. The liberals differed from the Nazis only in the tactics and methods to be employed in such an annihilation of Jewry.
With precisely the same outlook, and religion, missionaries, Indian Agents and their masters in the church and state in Canada shared the same assumption towards native people: "they" had to be changed into "us"óat least, the ones that could be changed. The rest were clearly considered expendable.
The strategies of how to do so differed; the government tended to favour direct absorption of native children into regular schools, while the churches were adamantly committed to residential schools where "nomadic" natives could be kept settled and controlled so as to be better indoctrinated with Christianity. But no-one doubted or questioned that the "civilized" aim was to "kill the Indian within the Indian". And these attitudes are still defended today by leading church officials, like former United Church Moderator Bruce MacLeod, who stated on a CBC interview in the spring of 2000, "The residential schools as a whole were well-intentioned experiments."
Such apologists for mass murder like MacLeod are remarkably in tune with the men who committed atrocities, like Alfred Caldwell, Principal of the United Church school in Ahousat, on Vancouver Islandís west coast. Expressing, like Bruce MacLeod, the "virtues" of genocide, Caldwell wrote in 1938,
"The problem with the Indians is one of morality and religion. They lack the basic fundamentals of civilized thought and spirit, which explains their child-like nature and behaviour. At our school we strive to turn them into mature Christians who will learn how to behave in the world and surrender their barbaric way of life and their treaty rights, which keep them trapped on their land and in a primitive existence. Only then will the Indian problem in our country be solved." (Rev. A.E. Caldwell to Indian Agent P.D. Ashbridge, Ahousat, BC, November 12, 1938)
The fact that this same Principal is named by eyewitnesses as the murderer of at least two children, one of them in the same month that he wrote this letter, is no accident, for cultural genocide spills effortlessly over into killing, as the Nazis proved so visibly to the world. Yet this relationship is still not clear at all to Euro- Canadians, who speak of "physical and sexual abuse" and "cultural assimilation" in the residential schools as if these were not related to violence and mass murder.
Nevertheless, Caldwellís letter illuminates two vital points, for the purpose of this discussion of "mental and bodily harm" inflicted on native students:
To quote Alberni survivor Harriett Nahanee,
"They were always pitting us against each other, getting us to fight and molest one another. It was all designed to split us up and brainwash us so that we would forget that we were Keepers of the Land. The Creator gave our people the job of protecting the land, the fish, the forests. That was our purpose for being alive. But the whites wanted it all, and the residential schools were the way they got it.
Residential schools tended to be built at places which were economically vital to the local native bands, and financially lucrative to whites: such as the Alberni school, established not near the town or the Indian reserves, but at the mouth of the Somass river where the main salmon fisheries are located. The Ahousat school occupied the richest stand of old growth red cedar on that part of the west coast, and this land was in fact sold at a great profit by the United Church of Canada to its financial benefactor, the logging multinational MacMillan-Bloedel, in 1953, against the wishes of Ahousat elders. (See page 60)
While this economic aim of acquiring native lands and resources was a general factor in the creation and continuation of the residential schools, the immediate, daily aim of the schools was a concerted cultural and mental "re-programming", or brainwashing of those of native children and youths who were not killed off.
The methods of this re-programming were not simply the obvious ones, of forcing students to speak English and forget their own tongue, compelling prayers and inculcating a foreign way of thinking. These forceful methods, in fact, often created resistance and prompted students into open rebellion; for example, between 1904 and 1930, the Alberni and Ahousat residential schools burned down on seven different occasions, most of these fires being purposely set by Indians, according to the reports of local Indian Agents.
What compelled conformity and effective re-programming in the schools was a more basic method of traumatizing by the staff and Principal which made the control of native hearts and minds more possible. This method accounted for the widespread brutality, sexual violence and selective murder that predominated within every residential school in Canada, since a common policy was at work across denominations.
That policy has been crafted to a terrible art in dictatorships of every stripe; and the residential schools were clearly mini-police states where the most basic human and legal rights were not only absent, but unattainable.
The American government termed this policy "low intensity warfare" in the 1980ís when they practiced it in Central America; their friends in the Guatemalan military used it with great success in slaughtering and dispossessing their own aboriginal peoples during the 1960ís, moving the Mayan survivors of that Holocaust into "model villages" remarkably similar to Canadian residential schools, and employing the same methods of inducing obedience through terrorism and trauma.
In essence, what a CIA counter-insurgency manual used in Vietnam has called "cultural realignment"óthe conquest and control of a foreign people and their lands through "the winning of their hearts and minds"ócan only be achieved through three steps: invasion, relocation, and re-education. These very methods were used in Vietnam and the Canadian residential schools to try to turn a foreign people into carbon-copies of their conquerors. Such are the practical ingredients of genocide.
Invasion of native lands in Canada was an accomplished fact by the time the first residential schools were built with government sanction in the 1880ís. The re-location of native nations was similarly straight-forward, since smallpox had already killed off, on average, more than 90% of them. Bands all over the west coast of BC, for example, were displaced by early missionaries, families were assigned new names and homes by the churches in order to confuse land titles, and children were easily taken away from their families by the RCMP and church workers.
What was difficult for the residential school system, and the missionaries generally, was the third and final phase of conquest: re-education. Native hearts and minds seemed impossible to win, at first. John Ross, an early Principal of the United Churchís Ahousat residential school, complained to an Indian Agent,
"The Indians are constantly running away from the school. No amount of entreaties to them to stay has any effect. If things continue in this vein, we shall have no school left, and we will have to compel the Indians to obey."(Reverend John Ross to Inspector Harry Guillod, December 9, 1908).
The first attempt to establish residential schools, in the years prior to World War One, fa.....(exceeds page size)
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