Symbolism Over Substance

Jesus came to them and said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”… Matthew 28, 18-20

So where does Canada go from here?

It’s been more than two years since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pronounced Canada guilty of genocide following the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau. And nearly six months since the flag was lowered to half mast after a ground-penetrating aerial radar scan was reported to have detected 215 unmarked graves near a former residential school in Kamloops. That number was later reduced to 200.

Within hours, the story went viral with a media apparently unconcerned about accuracy.

Trudeau was also quick to the microphone to call the residential school system part of a larger colonial policy designed to erase language and culture … “It is Canada’s fault that 215 Indigenous children were buried in an unmarked, mass grave at a one-time residential school in Kamloops, BC,” he said June 1.

Canadians can’t close their eyes and pretend this didn’t happen, Trudeau said. They must acknowledge that the country failed in its duty to those children, their families and their communities. They must also recognize the May 28 discovery of the children’s remains as part of a larger tragedy that saw thousands of Indigenous children torn from their families and sent to residential schools, where an untold number of them went “missing without a trace.”

This time, however, he stopped short of calling this genocide.

He did, however, publicly demand that Pope Francis apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the Residential Schools as 60 churches were subsequently burned and vandalized and statues of Sir John A. Macdonald and others were defaced and toppled across the country.

All of which appeared to work well, or so it seemed, for today’s ‘woke’ media and its globalist minions committed to the eradication of Canada’s colonial history and, increasingly, Canadian history itself.

Media Firestorm

What a melee! Within hours, shrines erupted across the country with candles, flowers, children’s shoes and ribbons everywhere which appeared magically on jacket lapels and at libraries across the land. Then, on July 8, the PM joined Premier Scott Moe at a press conference at Cowessess First Nation where 751 more unmarked graves were subsequently discovered on June 25 along with an additional 182 on June 30 at St. Eugene’s Mission near Cranbrook, BC.

Through all this, the national flag remained at half mast. That is, until it was finally raised at sunset November 6. Only to be lowered again at 11am on November 11. All the while ignoring the irony for activists dedicated to eradicating Canada’s history – that for more than a century, Remembrance Day has commemorated Canada’s war dead and all their battles, the most famous of which was their historic victory at Vimy Ridge which historians long ago deemed as Canada’s coming of age in the modern world. Read: achieving national adulthood.

So what is really going on here? How do the facts of Canada’s residential schools comport with the media reports of the past six months?

Rewriting History?

For one thing, even a superficial research into Canadian history shows that Canada’s residential schools are a long known aspect, since they came into being in the 1840s and closed down completely in 1996. This fact was amplified by the Truth and Reconciliation process underway between 2008 and 2015 and widely reported. Canadians have also known about the apologies of pontiffs and their role in the mitigation of longstanding grievances against these schools. And that over more than a century, more than 140,000 children passed through these schools and upward of 4,000 – perhaps as many as 10,000 – passed away while attending them or expired soon after from one of the many epidemics that have swept the world, particularly in the early 20th century.

So again, what’s the mystery about these graveyards known about since the beginning? Why the pretense suggesting dark motives and even darker deeds? And why has the Canadian government – which has played a foundational role in these schools – been implying such a thing?

For an answer, McGill theology professor, Dr. Douglas Farrow, suggests that perhaps the intention of this exercise was to capitalize on Bill C-15 (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act that received royal assent on June 21), driving home the point that the country must now act in more concerted fashion to effect change.

“If so, the end does not justify the means,” Farrow concludes. “The fires this campaign has provoked and the hatred for Christians (especially Catholics) it has fanned cannot be deemed so much unfortunate collateral damage. Sentiment is a dangerous thing. Truth and reconciliation both suffer when it is weaponized.

“Take, for example, the call for a papal apology,” he continues. The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was signed in 2006. The process of formal apologies for which it called had already begun in 1991. This was culminated by Prime Minister Harper in 2008 and by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, when he received a native delegation and “expressed his sorrow and anguish for the ‘deplorable’ conduct of those Catholics who caused immense pain and suffering to those in residential schools.” All of which was regarded as a suitable counterpart to the federal government apology by all media – Indigenous, Catholic and secular.

In 2015, however, the TRC completed its six-volume Final Report, based primarily on heartbreaking stories. And among its 94 recommendations was a demand that the new pope, Francis, be summoned to Canada to make an apology in situ “for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”

Yet, as Dr. Farrow concludes, today`s situation is treated as if nothing happened in 2009. Nor can the government or religious organizations retreat from official confessions of grave culpability, he continues. The state determined the policy and held the purse strings that controlled its implementation. It was a fatally flawed scheme, Dr. Farrow concludes, for which national repentance was and is requisite.

Misplaced Repentance

But repentance for what? “For just that, our collective and our particular failures,” he writes. “Not for Western civilization as such, though it has become the target of the cynical and the self-loathing. Certainly not for Christianity or the Catholic Church as such, which from the days of Canada’s patron saints – Jean de Brebeuf and his colleagues, who shed martyrial blood on behalf of abandoned natives in the face of tribal genocide – has done so much to temper our excesses and heal our diseases of body and soul, as it must now do again, despite its own shame and disgrace. Not for genocide either, for there was here no genocide, though there was no shortage of negligence, cruelty, disaster, and untimely death.”

Meanwhile, the imputed smear of the Catholic Church in general and the Residential Schools in particular continues largely unchallenged, except for a few brave former residents raising their heads above the parapet of media onslaught. Among them have been renowned Cree playwright Tomson Highway, the late Inuvik Dene band chief Cece Hodgson-McCauley who provided insight to LifeSiteNews and now-retired Senator Lynn Beyak, all testifying to having had positive experiences at the residential schools.

“All we hear is the negative stuff; nobody’s interested in the positive, the joy in that school,” Highway told the now defunct Huffington-Post Canada in 2015. “Nine of the happiest years of my life I spent…at that school,” he continued. “I learned your language, for God’s sake. Have you learned my language? No, so who’s the privileged one and who is underprivileged ?…You may have heard stories from 7,000 witnesses in the process that were negative. But what you haven’t heard are the 7,000 reports that were positive stories. There are many very successful people today that went to those schools and have brilliant careers and are very functional people, very happy people like myself. I have a thriving international career, and it wouldn’t have happened without that school.”

The late Cece Hodgson-McCauley – the first woman chief among the 23 band chiefs in the Northwest Territories – agreed: “I can swear on the Bible that my time in the convent was good. We ate three meals a day, not fancy but nourishing, a lot of recreation, every winter they built us a big slide and we would have fun sliding and we went on many picnics in summer time and in the winter we would go for hay rides, sleighs pulled by oxen.”

Yet former senator Lynn Beyak faced heavy criticism for defending the schools and was kicked off the Senate Committee for Aboriginal Peoples in April 2017 for asserting there were good aspects of the residential schools. She retired from the Senate in January 2021.

Blaming Catholicism

Nor, it seems, has there been much public support for the Catholic Church and the task it undertook with full government financial support to provide a home and education for indigenous children, many of whom suffered in the system for myriad reasons including outbreaks of disease which tragically and too often carried them away. Hence the graveyards’ wooden crosses which have long since gone missing to harsh winters and the elements in general.

Yet all this intended good work is today summarily dismissed by the collective shaking of heads by media and by a media-prompted Canadian population which imagines it knows and understands this part of Canadian history better than those who lived it. So in this climate of judgmental ignorance, the torching and vandalization of so many churches and monuments isn’t all that surprising. Indeed, according the Trudeau’s former aide, Gerald Butts, it’s “understandable”.

But is it?

Again, what’s really going on here?

What was the PM really saying when he appeared to grandstand this issue by calling out the Church publicly? “Let me make it clear that we expect the Church to step up and take responsibility for its role in this and be there to help in the grieving and the healing, including with records that is necessary. It’s something we are all still waiting for the Catholic Church to do.”

Had he really forgotten 2009? When in April of that year Pope Benedict XVI met with First Nations representatives and apologized for the abuse children suffered in the schools? And when Phil Fontaine, then-national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, emerged from the meeting satisfied. “What we wanted the pope to say to us was that he was sorry and … that he deeply felt for us,” Fontaine said. “We heard that very clearly today.”

Or was Trudeau simply referring to the TRC’s position that a papal apology in Rome is not sufficient; it has to be made in Canada? And has he forgotten that between 2008 and 2015, as the Catholic Church in Canada participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that several bishops, including Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, and religious orders, including the Jesuits and the Oblates, offered apologies to Canada’s native peoples? And that subsequent to the discovery in May of the unmarked graves in Kamloops, there were also renewed expressions of solidarity with Canada’s indigenous people from Pope Francis, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Edmonton’s Archbishop Smith, and Vancouver’s Archbishop Michael Miller?

The Government’s Role

Also lost in both Trudeau’s and the media’s selective memory is the issue of the Canadian government’s refusal to provide proper funding and improve the sanitary conditions in at least 35 of the schools, exposed in 1907 by Dr. Peter H. Bryce, the Medical Inspector for Canada’s Department of Interior and Indian Affairs, who conducted a special inspection of 35 Indigenous residential schools and wrote a detailed report on their conditions. Yet those recommendations were not published by the government, because it is said that they found the report too embarrassing. The report and recommendations were subsequently leaked to the press, however, and Bryce’s discoveries were published in a 1922 book entitled The Story of a National Crime. 

For additional perspective, Canada suffered a high child mortality rate in the early 20th century; in 1900 the rate for children under 5 was 296.75 per 1000 births. And deaths among children did not become a rarity until after World War II. Even so, Bryce reported “excessive mortality” in the children he studied, noting that infection – particularly TB – was primarily contracted in family homes and then spread in the schools. It has also been noted that historically, the First Nations people themselves have been less resilient against infectious diseases, such as influenza epidemics, measles, and smallpox.

So, with all the above in mind, let`s return to the original question – what is really going on?

Rising Skepticism

It turns out that amidst the radar-induced storm, experts were finding discrepancies in the media narrative, though understandably, they were reluctant to release their names. Among them are two archaeologists with experience working with ground-penetrating radar, including burial grounds, who’ve issued the following observations in a report titled: A Skeptical Analysis of the Reports of “Unmarked Graves” on Residential Schools Grounds. Posted on July 11, 2021 on Immigration Watch Canada (IWC), it’s a fascinating read, noting that in virtually every town and city in Canada and around the word, most graves over time are gradually not maintained and that mortality rates among children are extremely high historically.

First, the authors note that on May 27, 2021, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc published an article on their website stating that the remains of 215 children were “found” through the use of “a ground penetrating radar specialist.” Yet few other details were included in the brief report, other than to stress that it was only “preliminary findings.”

Nevertheless, the authors contend that the inconsistencies and contradictions of the report are so obvious that anyone who reads their analysis will surely concede that aspects of the “mass grave” stories are highly misleading.

“In spite of the preliminary and vague nature of the report, it immediately sparked lurid and sensationalized headlines worldwide, which went beyond anything contained in the press release. The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, The Toronto Star, and numerous other media outlets all ran stories claiming that a “mass grave” had been discovered, a term never used in the report. The Times ran the headline “‘Horrible History’: Mass Grave of Indigenous Children Reported in Canada,” while the Toronto Star printed the headline “Mass impact from discovery of mass grave.”

“As archaeologists who have worked with ground-penetrating radar, we knew immediately that the media’s claims went far beyond the evidence, as ground-penetrating radar is quite limited in what it can reveal beneath the earth. But one need not be a specialist to suspect that some aspects of the story were far-fetched. A little common sense and basic knowledge would have alerted anyone to the fact that the ‘mass grave’ claim was highly improbable. A mass grave implies a single catastrophic event, in which all the dead were killed at the same time, and then unceremoniously dumped into a single pit and covered up. Understandably, if such a thing did happen at Kamloops it would indeed be shocking, though fortunately, it is now known beyond doubt that no such thing happened.”

They continued: “Ground-penetrating radar cannot determine the existence of a mass grave; although it can help determine the probable existence of individual graves by locating the suspected outlines of shafts and (depending on the exact technology used) possible coffin remains. But it cannot in any case determine the age, ethnicity, or cause of death, or how old the gravesites are. It was therefore obvious to us that the media headlines about a ‘mass grave’ were false, a fact that was soon confirmed by the Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir.”

Their conclusion? “It is doubtful that the story would have sparked headlines worldwide if it had been reportedly more accurately, as the shift from a ‘mass grave’ to individual unmarked graves completely alters the story. A mass grave full of children conjures up images of the worse kind of horror, possibly involving murder. Unmarked graves, in contrast, indicate deaths that occurred gradually over a longer period of time, and which likely did once have burial markers (wooden crosses), but which over time were not maintained. Indeed, the Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc press release made plain that the burial site had actually already been known, but since it had not been maintained it was half-forgotten until the recent survey (a fact also ignored in most of the media coverage). The actual details then are not nearly as sensational as the false media headlines made it out to be, headlines which sparked even more extreme social media commentary, and the burning to the ground of at least five churches so far.”

Nor, according to the archaeologists, is there a mystery over the cause of death in the majority of the cases which include influenza pandemics and tuberculosis outbreaks that caused the vast majority of deaths at residential schools and which medical treatments of the time were mostly powerless to prevent. Even more telling is the complete absence of any acknowledgement that the infant mortality rate in Canada throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century was extremely high for children of all backgrounds.

Yet the errors the media continued to make long after the initial report about the Kamloops site became increasingly outlandish, the archaeologists note. Their conclusion: “Many of the people commentating the loudest on historic graveyards aren’t actually interested in unearthing the past. They’re interested in pitting people against each other in the present.”

Journalism or Propaganda?

All of which means that the May 28 report in no way justifies the attacks on churches today which are cause for a national outcry. Yet for the most part, they have been met with muted condemnation from civic leaders, or none at all. And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, despite diverting attention from Ottawa’s control of the schools by calling on the pope to apologize, has cautiously called the arson attacks against churches “unacceptable and wrong.”

Today, Canada and its history is under constant assault. Canada now stands accused of crimes against humanity: Genocide. By its own prime minister. Crimes said to have been committed by employees of the Canadian government carrying out their daily duties at the residential schools intended to care for and educate Indigenous children in hope of building better lives for them by absorbing them into the broader Canadian culture. Which, in those days, was built on the Catholic faith and its cornerstone, Jesus Christ, whose teachings, for 2,000 years, have civilized the world.

Yet now this cornerstone has been effectively removed by more than half a century of weaponized liberalism and all its degeneracies. And along with it, the social and spiritual protections Christianity had provided since Confederation in 1867.

So what is Canada to do now when faced with charges for which it has no answer? What is Canada to do now as the assault on Christianity intensifies leaving an entire nation – already worn down by the ravages of Covid – wide open to accusations that will wear it down further?

So far, there has been no answer. Except the public registering of guilt and shame. Signified by the lowering of the flag, the thousands of ribbons at public libraries across the country and rows of children’s shoes at spontaneous shrines.

And if this is the result of an undeclared political campaign by woke activists intent on further implementing their divisive and destructive ideologies, it’s been highly successful. So far, what’s left of Christian Canada and its foundations – eroded by a relentless hatred of God and of country – is showing no signs of recovery or of the fight required to restore this gift that God has given us to its former health, happiness and prosperity.

Tragically, this is what happens when the Lord God – who died for the sins of fallen Mankind and who commands us all to love Him above all things with our whole heart and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves – is removed from the picture. This is what happens when this 2000-year-old supernatural Truth is obscured by the woke Marxist mob and their narratives that reject God and embrace so-called social justice. And when their intensifying campaign of fear and loathing intimidate entire populations into silence. Just as Christ was silent before Pilate. In this totally secular environment, it then becomes easy to justify the closing of churches and the filling of hearts with anguish and dread by a media-driven culture suffering Covid Tourettes. And for the godless to imagine they know more than the God they deny.

So here we are again. Faced with the Truth of the Ages and of Eternity, the only way out of today’s chaos and destruction is a return to loving obedience to God’s immutable law, without which nothing can succeed and thrive. The saints and martyrs knew this. We should too.


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Paula Adamick is founding editor of The Canada Post, the newspaper serving the Canadian expat community in the United Kingdom (about 200,000 of us) from 1997 to 2012. With a BA in English and Journalism and a UK Masters degree in International Journalism, Adamick has also served as arts correspondent for The Scotsman and as a frequent contributor to The Evening Standard, and The Daily Mail (all UK) as well as to Canadian publications such as Challenge and Catholic Insight.