Mass graves of Indigenous children expose colonial genocide in Canada

On May 27, 2021 a mass unmarked grave with the remains of 215 Indigenous children was found at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada, which is a province on the west coast of Canada. Kamloops was the largest residential school in Canada and operated from 1890 to 1978. 

On June 25, Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme reported that they embarked on a mission to search for unmarked graves on June 2, using ground penetrating radar that sends high frequency waves in the ground which sends a signal back when something is detected other than soil. 

Another mass grave of 751 remains of Indigenous children was then found in the southeast corner of the Saskatchewan province at the cemetery of the former Marieval Indian Residential School making a total of over 1,300 Indigenous children’s bodies found in the unmarked graves thus far. 

These discoveries have rocked Canada and exposed the truth behind its founding ahead of this year’s commemoration of Canada Day, celebrated as Canada’s birthday, on July 1. 

The Indian Residential Schools was a network of boarding schools created by the colonial government of Canada for Indigenous children and usually operated by Christian church organizations. 

Similar to the Carlisle Indian School in the United States, residential schools operated in Canada as early as 1831, and the last of them were closed in 1996. 

In response to the discovery of these mass residential school unmarked graves, several churches in Canada have been vandalized and set ablaze. 

In Calgary, at least 10 churches were found with red paint splattered on the doors, red hand prints smeared on the buildings, writing with phrases “we were children” and 215 all replicating blood to expose the genocide that the Indigenous people in Canada face. 

On June 21, Sacred Heart Church on the Penticton Indian Band land in British Columbia was burned to the ground. On the same day, a few hours later, St. Gregory Catholic Church located on Osoyoos Indian reservation in British Columbia was set on fire. 

On June 26, Our Lady of Lourdes Chopaka Catholic Church, St. Ann’s Catholic Church and St. Paul Anglican church were all set on fire. 

On June 28, the Siksika First Nation Catholic Church was set ablaze. On June 30, St. Jean Baptiste Paris Church in Morinville, Alberta was burned to the ground. 

On July 1, St. Paul was set on fire again. This time, it completely burned down. St. Patrick Co-Cathedral Church in Yellowknife Northwest Territories was also set ablaze. The next day, St. Columba Anglican church in British Columbia was also set on fire. 

The mass graves found at the residential schools in Canada are not an isolated incident. They are part of a colonial-capitalist genocidal process that Indigenous people have endured since 1492. 

Children were kidnapped from their homes, from the streets or anywhere the colonial- capitalist State found convenient, and never returned home. 

Similar schools existed for Indigenous people in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout the continent of Africa. 

For hundreds of years, the Spanish operated similar mission systems throughout Mexico, Latin America and what is now the U.S. southwest. 

The residential schools operated as concentration camps designed to assimilate Indigenous children into North American culture as colonial subjects and erase every aspect of their own culture and history. 

The former Canadian prime minister John Alexander Macdonald stated that the goal of the residential schools was “to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects.” 

The former Canadian deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott, is on record saying residential schools were designed to erase the Indian completely from Canadian society. Scott ran these schools for 50 years. 

It is estimated over 150,000 First Nation children were forced into these schools which were primarily controlled by the Catholic Church, although other Christian denominations operated them as well. 

The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada has estimated that over 50,000 children were killed or disappeared in these schools. 

At the same time, we see a rash of missing and murdered Indigenous women and a continued struggle of Native people in Canada against the foster care system and the prison system. 

The Catholic imperialist prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has offered a weak apology for the mass unmarked graves saying it “reminds us of a history of systemic racism” and relinquished Canada’s control of the child welfare system of the Cowessess First Nation to now operate under their Indigenous leaders, making this the first time this has ever occurred in Canada. 

In 2005, Canada reached an agreement to pay $3 billion in reparations to survivors of the residential schools, and again in 2017, a settlement was reached to pay out $710 million to survivors of “Sixties Scoop,” a series of policies by Canada’s child welfare system to kidnap Indigenous children from their families and throw them into the foster care system. 

RoseAnne Archibald, who was elected the first woman National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, says that reparations must go beyond the $4.8 billion in settlements that has been paid out already. 

Reparations must be paid to the Indigenous people of Canada not only for the genocidal experiences they have had in the residential schools, but for the settler colonialism that completely disrupted every aspect of their lives as well. 

The Canadian government continues to offer band-aid solution after band-aid solution to the Indigenous people because real justice would mean returning every square foot of land and all the stolen resources to the First Nations. 

Canada operates as a foreign alien power occupying stolen land in the same fashion as the United States, South Africa, Australia and Israel. Canada also operates in tandem with the United States to oppress and exploit not only the Indigenous people, but Africans and all colonized people in North America. 

African people must understand and unite with the Indigenous people in their struggle against colonialism wherever it exists. The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) has had a principled political relationship with revolutionary Mexican/Indigenous organization Unión del Barrio since 1986. 

Ultimately, the freedom of Africans, Indigenous peoples— in what is called the Americas—and colonized people around the world must come through in overturning our colonizers and throwing off our colonial chains! Freedom will come by our own hands! 

Unity with Indigenous rights and land return! 

Smash settler colonialism!


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