When is using the term “Blood Libel” ever OK. Never.

“The blood libel against Canada of this monstrous fiction of thousands of secretly buried Indigenous victims of residential schools may be the single worst injustice this country has suffered in our lifetimes.

“Blood libel” is a racist dog whistle against Jews. The phrase refers to “the persistent legend that Jews practice the ritual murder of Christian children (a kind of recapitulation of the Crucifixion) in order to obtain blood for use in Passover rituals. (Ron Rosenbaum,  Explaining Hitler, 1988). Blood Libel, in historical terms, was a call to commit extremist violence against the Jewish people.

Conrad Black’s recent article in the National Post, “Trudeau owes us all an apology” (May 4, 2024), begins with that statement above. Using “Blood Libel” in the context of the discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools is a perversion of a gruesome reality.

Thousands of Indigenous children died at residential schools. That’s an undeniable historical fact. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation can positively identify 2,318 out of the 4,037 listed on the Memorial Register out of around 150,000 who attended the schools.

Records of DeathDescription
1,953Positively identified
365Additional names added to the memorial register after additional investigation
477Under investigation
1,242Known to have passed away but whose names are not yet known
Records of Children’s Deaths in Residential Schools“. Sept. 30, 2019. Indigenous Watchdog

That’s why they are called L’Estcwicwé´y (the missing).

That’s the term to describe those thousands who never made it home. The question everyone wants answered is ‘What happened to them? Where are they buried? These are the natural, common sense questions every parent wants answered especially if the death involves their child.

But not to Conrad Black and Tom Flanagan (also referenced in the same article) who seem to be on a mission to discredit, disparage and ultimately mock the testimony of the 6,750 residential school survivors who testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Flanagan’s latest book is a collection of essays that “analyze and critique the false narrative of unmarked graves, missing children, forced attendance and genocidal conditions at residential schools“. (Fraser Institute BLOG “No evidence of ‘mass graves’ or ‘genocide’ in residential schools”: Feb. 12, 2024).

What a load of piffle (Conrad Black’s fancy word for “nonsense”).

Conrad Black’s article praising Flanagan’s book – for which he wrote the Forward) is a stark example of what can be best characterized as an assault on truth – the lived experience and testimony of the thousands of Indigenous witnesses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They testified not only about the “monstrous” way they were treated by the priests and nuns who staffed the schools but also about the thousands of children who never made it home.

Who were they? Where were they from? Who were their parents, their siblings? How old were they?

Most of the above answers could be answered if the relevant authorities would release all the residential school records in their possession. On July 20, 2023 “The Senate Standing Committee on Indigenous Peoples released a report “Honouring the Children Who Never Came Home: Truth, Education and Reconciliation”. The report identified the Federal Government, Library and Archives Canada, a number of Roman Catholic entities and the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Northwest Territories as not complying with Call to Action # 77 and releasing all documents in their possession relating to residential schools.

Those records would help narrow the search and help answer the following questions posed by Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir (Chief), Tkʼemlúps te Secwépemc on the first anniversary of the discovery on May 27, 2022:

  • how many children are there
  • who they were
  • who their people are
  • how they came to be buried there
  • how they should be cared for, and
  • what justice needs to be sought on behalf of them and their families

On that same anniversary of the discovery of unmarked graves (NOT mass graves) at Kamloops, the National Post published two articles (on May 26, 2022 and May 30, 2022) to which Indigenous Watchdog wrote the following rebuttal:

The National Post dishonours the thousands of missing children in unmarked graves with their biased and distorted views.

Those are two articles out of many written over the last three years, all of them designed to ridicule the narrative around the unmarked graves and what that really means for Canada as a country. What a shame that instead of focusing on legitimate, honest debate around the facts to actually uncover the truth around what happened, we have instead a national media outlet promoting a counter narrative that is vitriolic, melodramatic and filled with bombast.

See the following posts in Indigenous Watchdog that deconstruct the myths into their constituent truths.

Related Posts from Indigenous Watchdog:

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