James Pew is an independent writer, father and entrepreneur. James’ work can be found on Substack at Woke Watch Canada and The Turn. James is a strong advocate for liberalism and the cherished Western freedoms associated with truth-seeking.

On May 27th the one-year anniversary of Chief Rosanne Casimir’s press release announcing that the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, had been found by ground-penetrating radar (GPR) in the apple orchard at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, the New York Post published an article entitled, ‘Biggest fake news story in Canada’: Kamloops mass grave debunked by academics.

On the previous day, Canada’s National Post had published a piece by veteran journalist Terry Glavin, The year of the graves: How the world’s media got it wrong on residential school graves.

These two stories are nothing less than a 180-degree course reversal in the sensationalist narrative about unmarked graves and secret burials at former Indian Residential Schools that readers in the West – post-George Floyd – had been thoroughly primed to accept.

Many people in the West, not just Canadians, indeed do accept the shocking “revelations” of murdered children buried in unmarked graves which has been fallaciously reported internationally by an unquestioning media accustomed to spreading ahistorical anti-West propaganda.

As far back as June 2021, Candice Malcolm was one of the first Canadian journalists who, instead of succumbing to hysterics, did what journalists are supposed to do; ask questions, search for facts and evidence (until the story makes sense). Candice proclaimed in a Toronto Sun column, just one month after the Kamloops discovery,

“We currently have people in the media invoking the holocaust, saying the discovery equates to genocide, and treating these residential schools as if they were all some kind of a death camp. But before we accept the very worst accusations against our country, let’s be sure to first look at all the facts.”

There were a number of pivotal articles which eventually led to the reversal of the media narrative. One of the first, In Kamloops, Not One Body Has Been Found, was published in January in the Dorchester Review. Historian Jacques Rouillard questioned the premature rush to judgment after Chief Casimir’s announcement:

“Based on the preliminary assessment and before any remains were found or any credible report made, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately referred to ‘a dark and shameful chapter’ in Canadian history.”

In February, former tenured professor at Mount Royal University Frances Widdowson made a compelling comparison in the American Conservative between the sensational stories which had attached themselves to the unmarked graves narrative and the “Satanic panic” of the 1980s:

“…the circulation of these stories has some similarities with the moral panic started by the book Michelle Remembers…Michelle Smith, who, after engaging in recovered memory therapy, made sweeping claims about the satanic ritual abuse that she claimed to have endured. The book presented itself as being factual, but scrutiny of its contents did not corroborate its claims. This did not prevent it from instigating a social contagion, leading to a satanic abuse and moral panic in the 1980s…”

Another important inflection point occurred in March 2022, when Conrad Black wrote in the National Post about the lack of evidence concerning these alleged secret burials:

“This charge began with the revelation …of this secret burial …“oral histories” of six-year-old children being taken from their beds at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in the dead of night to bury fellow students in the apple orchard. Stories such as these have been circulating for decades, and were amplified by less precise allegations about mysterious unmarked graves near the locations of other residential schools.”

As a result of the publication of these articles over the past several months, it is likely that in the coming days we will see a battle play out between activist-scholars and traditional scholars in which the former will castigate the latter as “residential school denialists.” But more to the point, we will see a battle over truth. 

What really happened at residential schools? Why are sensational stories repeated by the media in the absence of concrete evidence? Canadians are beginning to ask these important questions. 

At the very least, Canadians deserve a discourse that allows experts to put forward evidence and arguments as to why they feel the narrative truth around Canada’s residential school legacy and the related stories of unmarked graves seem not only at odds with the facts, but a shamefully tangled mass of contradiction and postmodern obfuscation.

From what can be seen so far on Twitter, the woke scholars are losing their minds. For example, Sean Carleton, a historian at the University of Manitoba, tweeted that he has authored a “primer on residential school denialism to be *used* as a tool by folks to challenge denialists.”

It is demanded that we uncritically accept the “personal memories” of residential school “survivors,” but reject the stories of residential school staff, which we are told are “neither informed nor objective.”

When Canadians internalize terrible things about themselves and their history, they perversely allow activist-academics like Sean Carleton to lecture them on their “whiteness” and instruct their guilt-ridden souls on the approved woke cleansing procedure which involves total immersion into an ideological bath of decolonization.

Carleton is not interested in evidence or arguments that cast the slightest ray of positive light on Western history. It is beyond consideration that the settlers’ story of contact and colonization could possibly be nuanced, containing both triumph and tragedy, heroes and villains, failure and success, regression and progression, that it could be anything other than the current deviously skewed ahistorical revision spun by activist-academics who benefit from unbalanced, sensational retellings of extremely complex relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people living in Canada.

For now and the immediate future Canadians will have to contend with more virtue signaling from all levels of our elite academic institutions. A cringeworthy example is a public statement on May 27th by the President of the University of British Columbia, Santa Ono. Although no excavation at Kamloops has yet taken place, the statement begins with an affirmation that human remains were found:

“Our hearts are heavy as we mark the one-year anniversary of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announcing the discovery of the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.”

How do two contradictory parallel realities unfold simultaneously? Articles by Terry Glavin, Conrad Black, the New York Post, The Dorchester Review and others must have found their way into the offices of the UBC president. How can he and others in the media and academia in good conscience continue to parrot a narrative that has been shown to be, at least to some degree, a sensational and gruesome fiction?

If the UBC President believes in a subjectively derived and activist-driven narrative, then Indigenous journalist Geoff Russ lives in something more akin to base reality. In a National Post article published on the same day as the UBC president’s woke virtue-signaling pledge, Russ writes:

“Indigenous people are in a better place than ever to determine their own futures. Yet, after the unmarked burial sites captured the Canadian public’s hearts and minds, the method of creating the portrayal of Indigenous people has not changed. Will we still be largely misunderstood and typecast this time next year? Probably. Decolonization Inc. has too many textbooks to sell, television slots to fill, and Patreon donations to harvest, to stop treating First Nations as plot devices for made-up narratives.”

All of this begs the question of activist-academics like Sean Carlton – is Geoff Russ a denialist too?

James Pew is an independent writer, father and entrepreneur. James’ work can be found on Substack at Woke Watch Canada and The Turn. James is a strong advocate for liberalism and the cherished Western freedoms associated with truth-seeking.

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James Pew is an independent writer, father and entrepreneur. Covering the culture wars from a variety of angles, with an emphasis on the effects of esoteric academic inventions (ie. Postmodernism and Critical Theory) on Canadian culture, education and public policy. James is a strong advocate for liberalism and the cherished Western freedoms associated with truth-seeking (academic, speech and conscience).

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