At least two libraries in BC have refused patron requests to purchase the bestselling book “Grave Error: How the Media Misled Us (And the Truth About Residential Schools),” written by C.P. Champion and Tom Flanagan.

Published by True North and Dorchester Books in early December 2023 and sold exclusively on Amazon, the book moved approximately 500 copies on its release date, and nearly 2,000 copies in the first week alone. It is currently the #1 bestseller in Canadian Literature.

Shortly after the book was released, Victoria resident Curby Klaibert requested that the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) acquire the title, as he wanted to get the facts about residential schools and the dubious “unmarked graves” narrative propagated by the legacy media.

Days after submitting his request, Klaibert received an email reading, “Thank you for submitting a title suggestion to Greater Victoria Public Library. Unfortunately, the library will not be acquiring this title at this time.”

“GVPL makes purchasing decisions based on the criteria outlined in the Board Collection Policy available on our website.”

The email did not present any reasons behind the rejection, but Klaibert suspects the rejection was “political.” 

“All these people are complicit in propagating and promoting this fake news, and it seems that our politicians and even our libraries are refusing to even allow the conversation to take place,” Klaibert told True North.

The GVPL states as part of their collection philosophy that “Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and facilitate access to constitutionally protected expressions of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, including those which some individuals and groups consider unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable.” 

“The collection is developed to present as many points of view as possible within the constraints of budget, space, and availability of resources.”

Klaibert sent the library customer service team two follow-up emails asking for an explanation, but he was ignored.

“I find it quite offensive actually that this has transpired, and that the library doesn’t have the common courtesy to come clean as to why they are not adding this book to their collection. The fact that they just ignored my request…. They just want me to go away. They don’t want this can of worms opened up, and I think the can of worms needs to be opened up,” Klaibert said.

“The Greater Victoria Public Library is not living up to their own board collection policy.”

Klaibert has requested three or four book acquisitions from GVPL in the past, but this is the first time one of his suggestions has been turned down.

GVPL patron Gary Calder also requested that his library acquire Grave Error, but he received the same rejection message as Klaibert.

Calder wrote an appeal letter, which he dropped off in mid-January. In his letter, he noted the book’s topic “couldn’t be more current and relevant,” and that all of the anthology’s authors are Canadians of stature. 

Calder hasn’t received a reply. 

On February 1, True North submitted a suggestion that the Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) purchase Grave Error. A couple weeks later, FVRL posted the message, “Not Approved.”

“Thank you for suggesting a purchase. It appears that this title has been self-published or independently published. Independent published titles are more difficult to get from our library vendors, are more expensive, and their binding does not stand up to library circulation. FVRL will not be purchasing it at this time. We may reconsider if it’s picked up by a traditional publisher,” the notification read.

Grave Error can be found at the Burnaby Public Library, Thompson-Nicola Regional Library, and Prince George Library, as well as many other libraries nationwide that haven’t had any issues with the book’s binding or acquisition process.

The rejection message was posted right as FVRL was celebrating “Freedom to Read Week.”

“Celebrate Freedom to Read Week, February 18 to 24! This annual event encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” FVRL posted on Instagram.

“FVRL supports YOUR freedom to read! Our libraries offer a wide range of materials representing various points of view. We value open access to information for all members of our communities, and we stand against calls for censorship.”

The Greater Victoria Public Library also celebrated reading banned books during Freedom to Read Week. 

True North requested comment from the Greater Victoria Public Library for this story but did not receive a reply. 

Have you also requested Grave Error or another title to your local library and received a rejection? Contact [email protected] to go on the record with your story.


  • 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.