Last year, an explosive report claimed that the remains of 215 children had been discovered at a Canadian residential school.
The remains were reportedly discovered by anthropologist Sarah Beaulieu, who used ground-penetrating radar to discover the remains allegedly buried on the grounds some time between 1890 and 1978, while the Kamloops Indian Residential School operated. The discovery was reported by Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation, who said in a statement in May 2021 that “[g]iven the size of the school, with up to 500 students registered and attending at any one time, we understand that this confirmed loss affects First Nations communities across British Columbia and beyond.”
As The Daily Wire reported at the time, no remains had actually been excavated.
The discovery shocked the world and led to widespread condemnation, including from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who released a statement saying the “remains were found at the former Kamloops residential school breaks my heart – it is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history.”
As The Daily Wire reported:
The Canadian government, in a 2015 Truth and Reconciliation report, determined many of the children who attended these schools were lonely, undernourished, and overworked. “For the students, education and technical training too often gave way to the drudgery of doing the chores necessary to make the schools self-sustaining. Child neglect was institutionalized, and the lack of supervision created situations where students were prey to sexual and physical abusers,” reads the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
The schooling system, the government determined in the report, was for much of its existence “an education system in name only” and amounted to “cultural genocide.”
But Canadian journal The Dorchester Review is now questioning the discovery, seven months after the remains were reported. Professor Jacques Rouillard, professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Montreal, wrote in the journal that the anthropologist who discovered the remains, Beaulieu, is young and has been “an instructor in Anthropology and Sociology at the University of the Fraser Valley since 2018.”
“Her preliminary report is actually based on depressions and abnormalities in the soil of an apple orchard near the school – not on exhumed remains,” Rouillard wrote.
The professor added that new research on the subject was revealed at a July 15 press conference, where Beaulieu slightly reduced the number of remains she claimed to have found from 215 to 200 “probable burials.” She said that after “barely scratched the surface,” she found many “disturbances in the ground such as tree roots, metal and stones.” Those “disruptions picked up in the radar” led her to conclude that the grounds “have multiple signatures that present like burials.”
Beaulieu, however, cannot confirm that what she discovered are the remains of children or tree roots, since the site has not been excavated. Professor Rouillard questioned where an excavation would ever take place.
“By never pointing out that it is only a matter of speculation or potentiality, and that no remains have yet been found, governments and the media are simply granting credence to what is really a thesis: the thesis of the ‘disappearance’ of children from residential schools. From an allegation of ‘cultural genocide’ endorsed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) we have moved to ‘physical genocide,’ a conclusion that the Commission explicitly rejects in its report. And all of this is based only on soil abnormalities that could easily be caused by root movements, as the anthropologist herself cautioned in the July 15 press conference,” Rouillard wrote.
The professor noted that anthropologist Scott Hamilton, “who has worked on residential school cemeteries for the TRC between 2013-2015,” said people need to be careful about relying on ground-penetrating radar because the soil could have been disturbed by any number of occurrences not relating to the burying of bodies.
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