Mass Graves at former Indian Residential Schools and Hospitals
Location of Mass Graves of Residential School Children Revealed for the First Time
[Editors Note: this article first appeared in the May, 2008 issue of Native Village News]
British Columbia: Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Native children are buried in mass or hidden graves at residential schools once run by the Catholic, Anglican and United Church and the Canadian government. Many of those children were secretly buried and never identified. One eyewitness described how he helped bury a young Inuit boy at the United Church's Edmonton residential school in 1953. "We were told never to tell anyone by Jim Ludford, the Principal, who got me and three other boys to bury him," said Sylvester Green. " But a lot more kids got buried all the time in that big grave next to the school." At a public ceremony, the FRD (Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared) released a list of 28 mass graves of Aboriginal children who died in Indian Residential Schools. FRD leaders will ask the United Nations to supervise the mass graves and observe an inquiry and judicial prosecution against those responsible for the children's deaths.
(Information provided by local residents, eyewitness accounts by survivors, and archived documents.)
1. Port Alberni: Presbyterian-United Church school (1895-1973). Grave site is in hills 100 metres due west of the NTC building. Children also buried at Tseshaht reserve cemetery.
2. Alert Bay : St. Michael´s Anglican school (1878-1975). Site is an overgrown field near the old building and under the new building's foundation. Skeletons seen "between the walls".
3. Kuper Island: Catholic school (1890-1975). Two grave sites: one in a field near the former building; another in a lagoon near the main dock.
4. Nanaimo Indian Hospital: Indian Affairs and United Church experimental facility (1942-1970) on federal land. Grave sites near former buildings near Malaspina College.
5. Mission: St. Mary´s Catholic school (1861-1984). Grave sites near the former girls dorm and present cemetery for priests; larger mass grave in a mound near cemetery; graves in slopes near old school grounds.
6. North Vancouver: Squamish (1898-1959) and Sechelt (1912-1975) Catholic schools. Children's graves in the Squamish Band Cemetery .
7. Sardis: Coqualeetza Methodist-United Church school (1889-1940) which became a Federal Government experimental hospital (1940-1969. Burial site next to Sto:lo reserve and Little Mountain school, possibly near former building.
8. Cranbrook: St. Eugene Catholic school (1898-1970), now a federally funded resort. Mass burial site and other graves under golf course.
9. Williams Lake : Catholic school (1890-1981). Grave sites near old school grounds and under foundation of tunnel.
10. Meares Island (Tofino): Kakawis-Christie Catholic school (1898-1974). Body storage room reported in basement; burial grounds south of school.
11. Kamloops : Catholic school (1890-1978). Mass grave in orchard near school. Numerous burials witnessed there.
12. Lytton: St. George´s Anglican school (1901-1979). Graves of children who were killed, and others, reported beneath floor and beside playground.
13. Fraser Lake : Lejac Catholic school (1910-1976.) Graves reported under old foundations and between the walls.
1. Edmonton : United Church school (1919-1960. Children's graves reported under thick hedge near former school site.
2. Edmonton : Charles Camsell Hospital (1945-1967). Experimental hospital run by Indian Affairs and United Church. Mass graves reported near staff garden.
3. Saddle Lake : Bluequills Catholic school (1898-1970). Skeletons and skulls observed in basement furnace. Mass grave reported near school.
4. Hobbema: Ermineskin Catholic school (1916-1973). Skeletons observed in school furnace. Graves under foundations.
1. Brandon: Methodist-United Church school (1895-1972). Burials near school building.
2. Portage La Prairie: Presbyterian- United Church school (1895-1950. Children buried in Hillside Cemetery.
3. Norway House: Methodist-United Church school (1900-1974). Grave site near former building site.
1. Thunder Bay : Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital, still in use. Experimental centre. Women and children reported buried near hospital grounds.
2. Sioux Lookout: Pelican Lake Catholic school (1911-1973). Burials in mound near school.
3. Kenora: Cecilia Jeffrey school, Presbyterian-United Church (1900-1966). Large burial mound east of former school.
4. Fort Albany : St. Anne´s Catholic school (1936-1964). Children killed and buried next to school.
5. Spanish: Catholic school (1883-1965). Numerous graves.
6. Brantford : Mohawk Institute, Anglican church (1850-1969). Graves in orchard behind building.
7. Sault Ste. Marie: Shingwauk Anglican school (1873-1969. Several graves reported on old school grounds.
1. Montreal : Allan Memorial Institute, McGill University, experimental centre. Mass graves of children killed near building.
This is only a partial list; it doesn't include all grave sites connected to Canada's Indian Residential Schools and hospitals. In many cases, children dying from diseases were sent home to die. Remains of other children were also incinerated in the residential school furnaces. An inquiry was established with a Tribunal of hereditary chiefs including:
Hereditary Chief Kiapilano of the Squamish Nation,
Chief Louis Daniels (Whispers Wind), Anishinabe Nation,
Chief Svnoyi Wohali (Night Eagle), Cherokee Nation ,
Clan Mother Lillian Shirt, Cree Nation,
Elder Ernie Sandy, Anishinabe, (Ojibway) Nation Hereditary Chief Steve Sampson
Chemainus Nation Ambassador Chief Red Jacket of Turtle Island.
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