3 Years After Perpetuating a Hoax in Canada That Led to Anti-Catholic Violence, the Press Is Now Silent


The announcement sparked international outrage. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it “a shameful chapter of our country’s history.” Millions of dollars were allocated for relief and the recovery effort. The Pope was compelled to issue formal apologies on behalf of the Catholic Church. The anger generated led to over 80 churches being burned or vandalized, arson leading to many that were over a century old being reduced to cinders. 


This was all over the announcement that a mass grave had been discovered in Kamloops, at a former Catholic Residential School location. A local tribe announced that ground-penetrating radar technology exposed the location where hundreds of native children were buried in a mass grave. This was said to be the result of systematic racism in Catholic schools for decades.

This news sparked renewed outrage over the Canadian practice, begun in the 1800s, of these residential schools removing children from families and forcing them into education programs as a form of coerced assimilation. As Trudeau sought to call for the Catholic Church to be held accountable, what he was seeking to deflect away from was the fact that the residential school program was developed by and funded by the Canadian government.

This media-generated outrage ended up leading to a violent catharsis in Canada. The presence of this grave led to the speculation of dozens, possibly hundreds more existing at similar school locations, with thousands of children said to be interred in what were essentially potter’s fields. Anger swept through the nation and the violence lashed across the provinces as dozens of Catholic churches were targeted, many becoming destroyed. 

It has all been over nothing substantial.

As the BBC had reported at the time, at the Kamloops school property, the remains of 215 children had been found – except that term was completely inaccurate. No actual remains were uncovered, just indications through the radar research of anomalies in the ground indicating the presence of graves. In the ensuing years, a number of excavations have taken place at several locations. By last summer, it was becoming obvious this was a completely overblown hysteria.


Now we are another year out, and there still has not been any report of findings that have supported the years of accusations, all backed by government grants. This month officials from First Nation (the Canadian equivalent of U.S. Native Americans) confirmed the spending that has been allocated for these efforts, but any further inquiries about results have been stymied.

The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations has confirmed significant spending to try and uncover the “heartbreaking truth” of potential unmarked graves at the Indian Residential School in Kamloops, BC. Carolane Gratton, spokesperson for the department, confirmed the allocation of $7.9 million for various endeavors including fieldwork, records searches, and securing the Residential School grounds.

However, despite the allocation of $7.9 million for this purpose, no remains have been recovered, and there has been no public disclosure of how the funds were utilized. 

The accusations at the time were as inflammatory as possible, with experts and others declaring that what had transpired in Canada had been a genocide and was a permanent stain on the nation. The media followed along. Reports were constant of the “discoveries,” “bodies found,” “graves uncovered,” and there was the commensurate outrage that went along with these reports. 


At the time, there was no shortage of voices stepping up to the microphones to deliver invective towards the Church and its horrific practices. Today, however, getting anyone to speak on the record about the results — or the lack thereof — is a futile task. There has been, to date, no confirmed evidence found to substantiate these claims. Zero.


At the Kamloops location, they have not uncovered any evidence of hidden Native children buried on site. At another church in Manitoba, no fewer than 14 attempts to unearth evidence of such graves were made, all coming up fruitless. With no evidence whatsoever produced, those who were the loudest years ago have fallen silent and will not speak on the record.

The same might be said of the press. The major outlets at the time were enthusiastic in their coverage.

Good luck finding any coverage today on the lack of tangible proof being produced, let alone numerous such reports matching that volume seen in 2021. They are darting away from these updates because of the low level of journalism seen three years ago. The outlets delivered reports as if confirmed, repeating that baseless 215 bodies figure while suggesting that these were, in fact, “found” at the location.


It was a dereliction of journalism. The story was just too good, the details just too pat, and there was no need to dig into the specifics and discover the actual story. Instead, they regurgitated the claims, feeling that leaders of the tribal nations were either unimpeachable sources or at least warranted the benefit of the doubt. 

But what was actually the case with the so-called discovery at that Kamloops church location? What are the facts the press never thought to look into? As it turns out, there were bodies to be found on the site, but the truth is far more benign. At a cemetery location, more unmarked graves were discovered, but these were known to the locals in the area. Being a church property, this was a community burial location. These were much older grave sites previously marked with wooden crosses and fencing that fell into disrepair over the decades.

Sophie Pierre, former chief of the St Mary’s Indian Band and a survivor of the school itself, told Global News that while the news of the unmarked graves had a painful impact on her and surrounding communities, they had always known the graves were there. “There’s no discovery, we knew it was there, it’s a graveyard,” Pierre said. “The fact there are graves inside a graveyard shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.”

This was information available at the time of these initial claims. The abandonment of basic journalism is bad enough, but the falsely generated outcry and the resulting attacks on both the physical churches and the Catholic Church entirely was a disgrace. 


When it comes to the story of these grave sites, in 2021, the press felt they uncovered a new racial outrage. Today, they are intent to bury the truth.