The great myth of 215 dead Injun kids

As we've noted before, the current hysteria over "215 dead children" at the Kamloops Residential School is almost certainly bogus. Ground penetrating radar can't count the number of bodies nor even tell you which species the bones are: it might be 23 coyote carcasses for all we know. We don't know for sure that there are any kids let alone 215. Even if the bodies are human they might be all Caucasians, or adults, and might number less than 10.

And a little bit of useful data courtesy of Blazing Cat Fur readers reminded me of something:
I'm not downplaying these deaths. 125 years ago adolesant death rate was 25%. It was probably higher among natives.

Some of these children would have died in their parents care. The parents would have been able to grieve. Not knowing your child has passed away or what happened to them is a heartbreaking tragedy.

Killer Marmot  
I was wondering that myself. The school operated as a proper residential school for about 70 years, and full enrollment was 500. That's 35,000 child-years. And those years included major influenza, measles, and polio epidemics, which indigenous people might be more vulnerable to.

If we assume that a child had one chance in 160 of dying of natural causes in any one year then that explains the deaths. Given the state of medical care at that time, it does not seem totally unreasonable.

Kathy Prendergast  
The Spanish flu took hundreds within one day, at its height. I remember hearing an interview with a survivor of that epidemic, on CBC radio, a few decades ago. His whole family died of it. They were stuck out on the family farm and couldn't get to town for medical treatment. He was about 12 and the only one who didn't fall ill, so it was up to him to carry or drag out the bodies of his parents, brothers, and sisters one by one and bury them on family land. By the time help arrived he was the only one left.

The big takeaway was Killer Marmot's reference to the size of the school. I hadn't been aware of its size before, and that piece of information put a huge datapoint into my lap. You see, there's another fact about the Kamloops academy that nobody likes to talk about:

In 1923 it was rebuilt after the previous school burned down. Being a boarding school, it's entirely possible that the deaths took place during the fire. So if the bodies turned out to be burned down by the fire, where's the outrage? People die in fires to this very day, most notably in England a few years back.

So did the Red Indian kids die in the fire? Or did they die of tuberculosis or polio, both of which were highly deadly diseases running through their populations in the early part of the 20th century? There's a big deal about "unmarked graves", but BCF readers are on the case for that as well:

Kathy Prendergast

Unmarked graves are not unusual; even the smallest gravestones or crosses cost money and if no-one was willing or able to pay for one, as was often the case throughout history, the grave was left unmarked. The identity of the person buried there, and the date of death and burial, is usually kept on record somewhere, though. 


Grew up in a mining town and there was the old Catholic cemetery just down the hill from our home so naturally explored it. There was one elaborate memorial - an angel - which, some years later, vandals desecrated. But even then I realized there were spaces between marked graves where there had been burials. At the time, there were probably wooden crosses, but those decay and disappear.

With respect to native Indian burials, do remember a series of books put out by ?C P Lyons giving interesting history and other references on the highways of BC, and we would read them as we travelled. Do remember his comment as to why one stretch of highway had a sudden jog (think in the Okanagan region) as it was bypassing an Indian grave. Never did sort out just HOW it was known there was an Indian grave there, as it wasn't obvious. One begins to wonder how the various tribes said "goodby" to their dead. Do know that - out on the west coast - sky burials of a sort were not uncommon

So everything the media is telling you about these deaths is a lie. Everything they tell you about the Residential Schools is a lie too, of course.

But ignore the whining about 215 dead Red Indian children. It's all made up.