No remains have yet been discovered in the burial grounds of Indian Residential Schools in Canada

In its report on what it called the “macabre discovery”, the New York Post called the alleged burial site a “mass grave”.

“A mass grave filled with the remains of 215 Indigenous children, some as young as three years old, has been discovered on the grounds of a former residential school in Canada notorious for physical, emotional and sexual abuse, according to published information. Friday,” the Post said. the story began.

In an article published on June 7, 2021, titled “How Thousands of Indigenous Children Disappeared in Canada,” The New York Times reported: “The remains of more than 1,000 people, mostly children, have been discovered. on the grounds of three former residential schools in two Canadian provinces since May.

Skeptics question the evidence

Jacques Rouillard, professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Montreal, questions the validity of the evidence. Ground-penetrating radar may have picked up something, but not necessarily burial sites, he suggested in an article for the Dorchester Review.

Rouillard argued that in the case of the Kamloops school, ground penetrating radar can tell us little about what is actually under the ground.

“By never emphasizing that this is only speculation or potentiality, and that no remains have yet been found, governments and the media only accredit what is in reality a thesis: thesis of the ‘disappearance’ of residential school children,” he wrote.

He noted that Sarah Beaulieu, the anthropologist who carried out the first radar tests, tried to stem the media tsunami during a press conference on July 15, 2021.

“We have to take a step back and say these are ‘probable burials’, these are ‘targets of interest’, for sure,” Beaulieu saidadding that the sites “have several signatures which present themselves as burials”, but that “we must say that they are probable, until excavated”.

“All of this is based purely on soil anomalies that could easily be caused by root movements, as the anthropologist herself has warned,” Rouillard wrote.

People watch as a convoy of truckers and other vehicles pass the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in support of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc people in response to media reports that the ‘remains’ of 215 children were discovered buried near of the establishment, in Kamloops, Canada, on June 5, 2021. Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

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Shortly after the Kamloops story broke, a second story made headlines: Ground-based detection radar had discovered 751 graves at the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

The New York Times (“Horrible History: Mass Grave of Indigenous Children Reported in Canada”) used the term “mass grave” to describe what was found in what became part of the Cowessess First Nation reservation.

Indigenous leaders, however, made it clear that there were no mass graves at the Marieval site. Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme told CBC News: “This is not a mass grave site. These are unmarked graves.”

Journalist Terry Glavin pointed out in the National Post that the graves were detected because there was an existing cemetery there, a Catholic cemetery linked to the Mission of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Marieval. This, Gavin wrote, was the likely explanation for the 751 graves detected.

Future excavations uncertain

Further studies or excavations could shed light on the situation. In May, the New York Post reported that there have been no excavations in Kamloops – and there is no announced date for the start of excavations. The report quotes a spokesperson for Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, a band located in Kamloops, as saying nothing has been dug from the ground so far.