The supposed mass graves of Indigenous children at residential schools across Canada have been the subject of horrifying headlines over the past two years, and have even inspired arson attacks against churches, but recent excavations at suspected sites have now reportedly turned up no signs of a burial.
Politicians and scholars alike said it’s another proof that the claims are unfounded.
In the course of four weeks this summer, the Minegoziibe Anishinabe, a group of indigenous people also known as the Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba, excavated 14 sites in the basement of the Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Catholic Church next to the Pine Creek Residential School.
Ground-penetrating radar was used to find the so-called “anomalies” at first, but on August 18, Pine Creek Indian Reserve Chief Derek Nepinak said that no bones had been discovered.
He also described the work as the “initial excavation,” which led some people who weren’t convinced by the initial claims to believe there were even more planned.
The Tk’emlps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia made the announcement in May 2021 following the detection of a mass grave containing more than 200 Indigenous children at a residential school there using ground-penetrating radar.
No evidence of genuine human remains was discovered by the radar, only “anomalies” in the soil.
From the 1880s through the end of the 20th century, Pine Creek and Kamloops were part of a network of residential schools maintained by the government and churches across Canada.
According to experts, the schools were attended by about 150,000 kids.
However, no excavations had taken place in the claimed burial locations prior to last week.
At Kamloops, neither excavations nor start dates have been scheduled as of yet.
That didn’t stop many Canadians from portraying the residential schools and those who worked there in a hateful light.
Days after the Kamloops declaration, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an order mandating that all flags on government facilities fly at half-staff, partially in response to a request from indigenous chiefs.
The Canadian government and provincial governments committed roughly $320 million to further research, and in December they committed an additional $40 billion to settle First Nations child welfare claims that partially recompense certain students who attended residential schools.
On behalf of the Catholic Church, which oversaw many of the residential school sites, Pope Francis officially apologized and begged God’s pardon.
So far the Vatican hasn’t issued a retraction of the apology in light of the fact that the original allegations have now turned out to be a complete hoax.