Vancouver Zeitgeist
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Canada’s genocide hysteria

Some dates and events that fomented a moral panic

Greg Klein | February 19, 2024

This information comes from numerous sources but mostly from Grave Error: How the Media Misled Us (and the Truth about Residential Schools), edited by C.P. Champion and Tom Flanagan. Read a profile of the book here.


1990: During a CBC interview Phil Fontaine, then Manitoba Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, suddenly alleges that widespread sexual abuse happened at his residential school. According to Grave Error co-editor Tom Flanagan, “Although Fontaine did not elaborate, the scale of what he described suggested widespread student-on-student abuse.” Other natives follow with unsubstantiated allegations of murders, torture and secret burials.

1996: Canada’s last residential school for natives closes. Most of the schools had shut down by the 1980s.

1996: “Reconciliation” becomes a buzzword with the creation of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

1996: Canada’s Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples refers to residential school “horrors.” The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs then blames residential schools for a “tragic legacy.”

1997: The United Church defrocks minister Kevin Annett after he refuses to undergo psychiatric examination. He continues making wild statements about atrocities against Canadian natives, weird international conspiracies and his own prominence in an imagined “Republic of Kanata.”

2006: Annett films a “documentary” called Unrepentant, claiming that secret burials took place on Kamloops residential school grounds. Grave Error: How the Media Misled Us (and the Truth about Residential Schools), edited by C.P. Champion and Tom Flanagan

September 2007: Following thousands of class action suits starting in the 1990s, an Indian Residential School (IRS) Settlement Agreement begins payments to former students of about $5 billion. They get $10,000 each plus $3,000 for each year of attendance, with more money for students who allege abuse. There’s little scrutiny of allegations. Additional payouts come later.

June 2008: Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologizes for residential schools, repeating an American quote falsely attributed to a Canadian official that the schools intended to “kill the Indian in the child.”

April 10, 2010: Just as his work with Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was beginning, commissioner Murray Sinclair shows his bias with dishonest statements to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He falsely claims that nearly every native child attended a residential school and that they were taken by force.

2010-2015: Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission spends over $60 million during six years of hearings. Commissioners allow no cross-examination of witnesses, encourage lurid testimony and encourage some former students to change their stories to fit the TRC agenda. Dissenters face a hostile atmosphere.

April 2013: At a TRC hearing former prime minister Paul Martin accuses residential schools of “cultural genocide,” giving establishment credibility to a fashionable term among activists.

January 2014: An interim TRC report claims that 4,000 native schoolchildren died at residential schools from abuse and neglect. TRC executive-director Kimberly Murray says, “We’re just scratching the surface.”

May 2015: Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin repeats the charge of “cultural genocide,” an improper statement from a sitting judge.

June 2015: The TRC concludes that Canada’s goal was to “cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist … which can best be described as ‘cultural genocide.’” The TRC further judges Canada guilty of “physical genocide” and “biological genocide.”

May 27, 2021: Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (Kamloops) chief Rosanne Casimir announces “confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.” She supports her claim with a recent ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey by “conflict anthropologist” Sarah Beaulieu. On July 15, 2021, Casimir repeats the allegation although Beaulieu, a “ground-penetrating radar specialist,” reduces the number of “probable gravesites” to 200. Attending the July 15 presentation is Lisa Hodgetts, president of the Canadian Archaeological Association, who speaks of “thousands and thousands of missing children.” Also attending is Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who says “215 innocent children died and were buried in unmarked graves” and that GPR provided “undisputable [sic] proof.” Archibald alleges “genocide” and calls for “reparations.” The band’s legal counsel, Don Worme, states: “It is undeniable that those are graves. There is no question that there have been children gone missing.” GPR cannot locate bodies, graves or “probable” graves. Casimir and the Kamloops band refuse to release Beaulieu’s report, allow police to investigate or allow excavation to search for graves.

May 2021: Sensational reporting by Canadian media gets international attention. The influential New York Times repeatedly pushes fake news about “mass graves” and thousands of missing native children. Amnesty International repeats similar falsehoods.

May 2021: A wave of arson and vandalism attacks hits Canadian churches. Historic monuments are also targeted. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts calls the church burnings “understandable.” Attacks continue to the present.

May 30, 2021: Ottawa orders Canadian flags on all federal buildings to be lowered, issuing a statement that implies acceptance of the missing children claims. The government grants the Assembly of First Nations power to decide when Canadian flags may be raised. Flags remain lowered for over five months, the longest period in Canadian history. Almost all buildings across the country follow Ottawa’s practice and the AFN prohibition.

May, June and later 2021: Similar “genocide” allegations come from other native bands. Examples include Saskatchewan native lawyer Eleanore Sunchild talking about “mass graves … genocide … Indian children were killed…”; a Saskatchewan chief named Bobby Cameron claims “we had concentration camps here…”, the Southern Chiefs Association of Manitoba calls the 215 graves story “absolute and further proof” of genocide and crimes against humanity. By late June the number of supposed hidden graves across Canada reaches 2,600.

Spring, summer and fall 2021: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stages meetings and photo ops to express supposed grief.

June 2021: Ottawa begins paying compensation for natives who attended day schools from 1951 to 1992. Claimants need no supporting documentation to get $10,000 each. Class action lawsuits continue to the present.

July 1, 2021: Politicians, government institutions, media and demonstrators turn Canada Day into an event of national recrimination.

September 30, 2021: Canada holds its first annual day of mourning for IRS students with the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

October 19, 2021: Media report a Kamloops band open letter to the prime minister stating: “In May of 2021, evidence of a horrific act of genocide was laid bare to the world, with the confirmation of at least 215 unmarked graves of little ones who attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”

December 2021: Kamloops chief Casimir presents an Assembly of First Nations resolution “demanding justice” for the “mass grave discovered at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.”

January 13, 2022: In a CBC Fifth Estate episode, nine natives recount lurid stories such as Kamloops school children being hanged. CBC asks no critical questions, expressing a “tone and interview style [that] indicates that all stories should be believed,” stated Grave Error contributor Frances Widdowson. An accompanying CBC online article “uncritically recounts the allegation about a baby being thrown into a furnace,” she added. The stories might have been influenced by Annett’s bizarre allegations.

July 24-29, 2022: Pope Francis visits several Canadian native communities in response to native demands for an apology and reparations. He publicly accepts the “genocide” allegation.

September 2022 to present: Canada’s Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Burial Sites Kimberly Murray tours Canada for the National Gathering on Unmarked Burials. Among the themes are “Affirming Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Community Control over Knowledge and Information.” A final “gathering” and report are planned for June 2024.

October 27, 2022: On a motion introduced by Winnipeg native MP Leah Gazan, Parliament unanimously agrees, without debate, to recognize residential schools as “genocide.”

February 2023: Gazan denounces opposing views and information on residential schools as “hate speech” and “violent.” She later calls for a Criminal Code ban on “denialism” (disagreeing, questioning or asking for evidence concerning unmarked graves, residential school abuse or genocide). Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller expresses interest in the censorship proposal.

June 2023: Another call to criminalize “residential schools denialism” comes from Kimberly Murray. As Canada’s Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Burial Sites, she releases an interim report that defies rationality, insisting that vague allegations must be accepted as “truths.” Murray is a former TRC executive director and currently Ontario Assistant Deputy Attorney General for Aboriginal Justice. Federal Justice Minister David Lametti says he’s open to “all possibilities to fighting residential school denialism.”

February 9, 2024: A Regina arson marks the hundredth church attack recorded by True North news since the May 2021 claim that 215 hidden graves had been found at Kamloops.

A new book exposes Canada’s mass graves hoax,
genocide smear and reconciliation chimera
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