Despite an explosive claim in a government report that shovel-wielding “denialists” attempted to dig up alleged remains on the grounds of a former residential school, the RCMP says it has received no reports of such.

“Denialists entered the site without permission,” special interlocutor for unmarked graves Kimberly Murray said in her June 2023 interim report, referring to the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

“Some came in the middle of the night, carrying shovels; they said they wanted to ‘see for themselves’ if children are buried there.”

However, the Kamloops RCMP says it has not intercepted any unauthorized shovel-bearing grave-diggers on the former residential school grounds or received reports of any such trespassers.

“At this time, there is no indication that these events have been reported to the Tk’emlúps Rural RCMP Detachment,” the RCMP told True North on Monday.

True North asked how many calls the Kamloops RCMP has responded to since May 2021 that involve trespassers with shovels on the grounds of the former residential school.

It was in May 2021 that the Tk’emlúps Nation announced it had detected 215 soil anomalies on the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site, which it interpreted as the “remains” of missing children, though no bodies have been exhumed to date.

“Your questions are best directed to the author of the report,” the RCMP spokesperson responded, referring to Murray’s report. 

Murray’s report did not provide any details on the alleged grave-digging incidents, and did not have any footnotes or citations explaining the matter.

Murray and the Tk’emlúps First Nation did not respond to True North’s requests for comment.

“Every time an announcement of anomalies, reflections or recoveries relating to the existence of unmarked burials is made, Indigenous communities are being attacked by denialists challenging these findings,” wrote Murray in her interim report.

“This violence is prolific and takes place via email, telephone, social media, op-eds and, at times, through in-person confrontations.”

Murray is advocating for “residential school denialism” to be outlawed, and Justice Minister David Lametti has said he is open to a “legal solution.”

“Urgent consideration should be given to legal mechanisms to address denialism, including the implementation of both civil and criminal sanctions,” wrote Murray.


  • Lindsay Shepherd

    Lindsay holds an M.A. in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory from Wilfrid Laurier University. She has been published in The Post Millennial, Maclean’s, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, and Quillette.