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Tsuut’ina Chief Whitney wants Catholic records investigated after Kamloops school horror

Roman Catholic Church requested to open its records on residential schools

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Chief Roy Whitney of the Tsuut’ina Nation is calling for the Roman Catholic church to open all of its residential school records, not just to history professionals, but to law enforcement.

“It is with the deepest sadness that we learned of the discovery of over 200 deceased children buried at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia,” said Whitney in a statement.

“The tragedy of their anonymous interment during a separation from their families, and the understandable worry that arises as to causes of death, are only slightly mitigated by the knowledge that they are now in peace with the Creator.

“Not only do our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in affected British Columbia Nations, but we pledge any other assistance that may be required in the days ahead.”

Whitney said if there is evidence of mistreatment of children or interference/indignity towards a dead body, the records must be handed over to police and the federal government must open all files to investigators also.

“While church officials were the custodians of these children, the federal government had a fiduciary duty of care,” added Whitney.

Whitney was commenting on the shocking discovery last week of 215 children that had been buried, and forgotten, at a Kamloops residential school.

Chief Rosanne Casimir, of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, said the remains were confirmed with the help of a ground-penetrating radar specialist.

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc said it will be engaging with the coroner, reaching out to the home communities who had children who attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School and taking measures to ensure that the locations of the remains are protected.

The Kamloops Industrial School (later known as the Kamloops Indian Residential School) was opened under Roman Catholic administration in 1890. It became the largest school in the Indian Affairs residential school system, according to online documents from the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre.

The federal government took over the administration of the school in 1969, operating as housing for students attending local day schools and no longer providing classes. The doors officially closed in 1978.

In Calgary, Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he will be formally calling on Calgary’s public and Catholic school boards to rename Langevin and Bishop Grandin schools.

“It’s time for us to figure out ways to truly include indigenous peoples in the prosperity of this nation,” said Nenshi.

“The time for dithering is long past. The time for process is long past. Both of those boards should change the names of those schools in their next meeting.”

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report, Bishop Grandin lobbied the federal government to fund the construction of residential schools.

“I’ve had the chance to spend some time with some colleagues this weekend who are graduates of Bishop Grandin school who did not know who Bishop Grandin was,” Nenshi added.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report also mentions a speech Hector-Louis Langevin gave in 1883 where he said: “If you wish to educate the native children, you must separate them from the parents. If you leave them in the family they may know how to read and write but they still remain savages.”

Langevin’s role in the establishment of residential schools has been debated in the past, with some arguing that his words were simply a regurgitation of the policy set forth by Prime Minister John A MacDonald.

“Taken on its own, Langevin’s quotation is a devastating indictment to modern ears,” says journalist Peter Shawn Taylor in a 2017 Macleans article.

“But what if we let the tape roll a bit longer? Later in that same speech, for example, Langevin said it was his intention to give every native child who graduates from residential school a free homestead. And in response to Langevin, Edward Blake, the leader of the Liberal party of the day, not only used words to describe Indigenous men and women that would be considered horrific today, he also complained that Ottawa’s plan was overly generous.

“As for the accusation that Langevin believed in assimilation of the Indigenous community – a concept now properly and universally considered abhorrent – he is guilty as charged.”

The Langevin Block of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa were renamed in 2017.

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com

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SLOBODIAN: Decade long investigation into Manitoba residential school involves nearly 100 officers and 700 interviews

The First Nation recently undertook a search of the site using ground-penetrating radar technology but has not released the results.

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A “large and complex” decade-long investigation by RCMP has been underway into allegations of sexual abuse at a former residential school in Manitoba’s Sagkeeng First Nation.


The Fort Alexander Residential School opened in 1905 on Sagkeeng First Nation, located 120-km north of Winnipeg. In 1970 it was converted to a day school that operated for several years.


Manitoba RCMP issued a press release Tuesday confirming the major crimes unit began looking into allegations of abuse in February 2010, then launched a formal criminal investigation the following year.


RCMP began by gathering information, including reviewing archival records in both Ottawa and Manitoba. They went through thousands of documents such as student and employee lists and quarterly returns.


This involved more than 80 officers who interacted with more than 700 people across North America in an effort to find possible victims and witnesses.


“After compiling and collating all this data, investigators developed an investigative plan that began with the canvassing of people whose names had been identified in the documents as well as a door-to-door canvas in the Powerview/Fort Alexander area, where the school had been located,” said the statement.


The criminal investigation launched in 2011 involved 75 formal witnesses and victim statements.
Recently, Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson said elders and survivors have long spoken about abuse at the school and children that went missing.


The First Nation recently undertook a search of the site using ground-penetrating radar technology but has not released the results.


“Violation of the privacy rights of those involved in this investigation will not only cause further trauma to everyone involved, but also potentially compromise this highly sensitive investigation,” said Henderson. “We ask that the trauma our community has experienced and continues to live every day is respected and that those affected are afforded their privacy at this time.”

RCMP are working closely with First Nations leaders and no other criminal investigations into former residential schools are underway in Manitoba, said RCMP.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard  lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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BC increases vaccine efforts amid slowing rates, including ‘vax vans’

“Over the next two weeks, BC will push hard to vaccinate as many eligible people as possible.”

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BC health officials want more people rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 shot, and say they will be increasing efforts in the coming weeks to do just that.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Dr. Penny Ballem addressed BC’s vaccine roll-out plan during a Tuesday morning news conference.

Among their announced efforts are “walk-in Wednesday” which will take place August 4 when 20,000 jabs will be made available with no need to book in advance.

Walk-in Wednesday is part of the “Vax for BC” campaign.

“I’d like to begin by thanking each and every one of the millions of British Columbian’s, like me, who have stepped up to be vaccinated,” said Henry.

“Because of this small act, we have been able to re-open our province.

“While we have made tremendous progress with our immunization plan, there is of course more work to do. We know that some people still struggle to find a convenient time in their day to get immunized, and others may still have questions, and be hesitant about the vaccine.

“So starting today, we are making it even easier for people to get vaccines. To help protect themselves, and their loved ones against COVID-19.”

Henry said the province will be introducing “custom vax vans” so people will be able to get vaccinated on their lunch break or “while cooling off at a lake.”

The province is also reducing the wait time between first and second doses from eight weeks to seven weeks.

There are currently 906,772 eligible people who have not received a dose, roughly 19.6% of the population older than 12, according to data from July 23.

Interior health has an un-vaccinated population of 26.2% while Northern health has 32.5% without a first shot.

On Monday, the Surrey Board of Trade wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Health Minister of Canada Patty Hajdu, BC Premier John Horgan, and Minister of Health Adrian Dix urging them to “implement a proof-of-immunization model.”

“We support a centralized, Canada-wide approach to COVID-19 proof-of immunization that could be easily used to confirm vaccination status for international and domestic use,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

“Without inter-provincial harmonization, Canada risks a piecemeal approach, making life more difficult and unpredictable for individuals and employers during an already uncertain time.”

Last week, YVR airport implemented separate lines for vaccinated and un-vaccinated individuals prior to reaching customs.

The separation of lines – which was put in place as a federal policy – has since been removed following extensive public push-back.

As for enforcing proof-of-immunization policies at concerts, night clubs, and sporting events – an increasing number of British Columbian’s are cozying up to this idea.

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com

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Feds silent on $120M loan to company not ‘worthy of taxpayers’ largesse”

Both CMHC and the Department of Social Development declined to respond to questions.

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Federal agencies yesterday remained mum about a $120 million housing loan to one of Canada’s wealthiest developers, after Cabinet earlier defended the loan as critical, said Blacklock’s Reporter.

“This project will help over 300 local families find rental housing units,” Ahmed Hussen, minister responsible for housing, told reporters. “That’s why the government is taking action to increase the supply of rental housing through projects like the one we’re announcing.”

Cabinet on July 19 announced the $120 million loan to build 302 apartments in Brampton, Ont. The developer is Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. The company’s CEO was paid $3 million in salary and benefits last year, according to corporate filings.

“This project will help over 300 local families find rental housing units,” Hussen’s department said in a statement. “A solid and reliable supply of rental housing is critical to ensuring more Canadians have access to housing that is affordable.”

Choice Properties is owned by George Weston Ltd. The developer’s 2020 net income totaled $451 million. The loan was approved through a federal program, the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, that extends 10-year, easy-term credit “for certainty during the most risky periods of development,” according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Both CMHC and the Department of Social Development declined to respond to questions. The news website Press Progress cited data from Canada Mortgage and Housing that of 302 apartments in the Brampton project, as few as 61 would rent at below-market rates. The building is scheduled for completion by 2023.

“We know that finding an affordable place to live is a challenge for many Canadians in communities across the country,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time. “Today’s announcement is great news for families in Brampton. The Government of Canada will continue to invest to increase affordable housing options.”

George Weston Ltd. reported net earnings of $1.6 billion last year. It also operates the Loblaw Companies Ltd. supermarket chain that in 2019 received a $12 million federal grant to install new freezers. “Canadians might wonder why the Liberals handed over $12 million to Loblaw’s, one of Canada’s richest companies,” Conservative MP Mark Strahl (Chilliwack-Hope, B.C.) earlier told the Commons.

The freezer grant was paid under a Low Carbon Economy Fund. A now-disbanded ecoEnergy program similarly paid grants to large corporations in the name of energy efficiency.

Sobeys Inc. received $1.48 million in ecoEnergy grants in the period from 2006 to 2013. Loblaw Companies received $801,000. A total $207,968 was paid to McDonald’s Restaurants and $153,960 to Sears Canada.

“These companies are flush,” Liberal MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.) said in an interview at the time. “Companies, given their financial statements, don’t seem to be worthy recipients of taxpayers’ largesse.”

Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard.
mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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