• Canadian experts provide substantial evidence to discredit the supposed “cover-ups” of deaths in residential schools.
  • Easily accessible, official records demonstrate that children who died in residential schools were given proper burial, and most in his/her home reserve.
  • Considerable damage has been caused to the Christian faith by mainstream media and indigenous advocates in Canada, by the steady stream of unfounded allegations of “genocide”.

In 2008, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established, chaired by indigenous lawyer and Senator, Murray Sinclair. The Commission was budgeted at $60 million, but it ended costing $70.6 million.  The alarming findings of the TRC have had a strong impact on Canada and internationally.

The purpose of the TRC was “to reveal to Canadians the complete truth about the history and the ongoing legacy of the church-run residential schools in a manner that fully documents the individual and collective harms perpetrated against aboriginal peoples”.  This was a sweeping mandate that presupposed that students had been “harmed” in the residential schools. The residential schools were built and operated by the federal Department of Indian Affairs and run by religious denominations, from 1883 until 1996, when they were finally closed.

The TRC interpreted the mandate as requiring it to collect anecdotal stories, that cannot be verified, of students’ experiences while attending the residential schools.  It referred to the students, in its final report, as “victims” of the residential schools.  The TRC did not collect any hard, verifiable data but only the anecdotal stories from former students.

The TRC’s report, released six years later, in 2015, did not provide any updated and comprehensive figures on the total number of students who attended the residential schools beyond its rough, unsourced estimate of 150,000 students. Senator Sinclair claimed that approximately 15,000 – 25,000 residential school students had died at the schools.

The report was based on the stories of the students, who claimed they experienced racism, sexual, and physical abuse, neglect, and that many children died and were buried in unmarked graves. The TRC further claimed that there were many “missing children” for whom there were no records.  It described this situation at the residential schools as “genocide” of indigenous people.

Unmarked Graves at former Kamloops School

On May 29, 2021, it was announced that 215 Kamloops residential school students had been “found” in unmarked mass graves in a cemetery located on the grounds of a former residential school, which was located on the reserves.  This news was a major shock, not just in Canada, but also worldwide.  It was a black mark against Canada.

New Research on Residential Schools

Since the horrifying charges outlined above were made public, fact-based research has been carried out by experts, who have provided verifiable facts on the residential schools as follows:

  1. Research by Professor Jacques Rouillard, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Université de Montréal. Report released January 11, 2022 (https://www.dorchesterreview.ca/blogs/news/in-kamloops-not-one-body-has-been-found ).

According to Professor Rouillard, the NCTR (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the successor of the TRC) had officially recorded the names of 51 children who died between 1915–1964, in the Kamloops residential school. He obtained information on these children from the Library and Archives Canada and death certificates held by the British Columbia Archives Genealogy Resource Online.  These resources were not reviewed by the NCTR.  The information revealed that at least 35 of the 49 students (two were duplicates), listed on the NCTR website for the Kamloops school, have been located.

It is noted that the NCTR reports only 51 students “missing” from the Kamloops school which contradicts the 215 missing children referred to in the May 29, 2021 press release. Seventeen of these students died in hospital and eight on their own reserves as a result of illness or accidents.  Four were the subject of autopsies and seven of coroners’ inquests.  As for burial sites, 24 are buried in their home Indian Reserve cemeteryThe four “missing” children, he stated, still require death certificates be obtained from the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency. 

Professor Rouillard stated:

This is a far cry from the unverified claim that authorities overlooked or somehow covered up their deaths, or that the parents were not informed, or the remains never returned home.  Most were informed and most were returned home.

Further, Professor Rouillard noted that from 1935 onward, the federal Department of Indian Affairs had put protocols in place and procedures to be followed when a student resident of the school died.

The protocols required the principal of the residential school inform the departmental Indian agent, who then was required to establish a committee composed of himself, the principal, and the doctor who had certified the death. Parents were required to be informed of the investigation, and permitted to participate in the inquiry.

Professor Rouillard noted that death certificates of students attending any of the B.C. residential schools can be obtained by anyone at the British Columbia Genealogical website, and that similar research is possible in other provinces as well.

Interview with Professor Rouillard

An interview with Professor Rouillard was posted on the Italian website, Union of Catholic Christian Rationalists (UCCR) on April 1, 2022.  During the interview, Professor Rouillard stated that the Canadian media were the mouthpiece of the Indigenous communities, and provided no criticism of the claims of the TCR, but accepted its claims without investigation.  Professor Rouillard further stated that the Canadian government has paid enormous sums of money to the “survivors” of the residential schools, who were now attempting to obtain the same from the Catholic Church, despite the fact that there was no evidence on which to base the compensation.

  1. Frontier Centre for Public Policy release December 9, 2021 (https://fcpp.org/2021/12/09/we-are-finding-the-2800-missing-children/ )

See also (https://fcpp.org/2022/02/09/note-to-americans-education-is-not-genocide/ )

The Frontier Centre’s research was carried out under the direction of retired judge, Brian Giesbrecht.  The report stated:

… what we have examined to date suggest that the NCTR [National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation] claim of “missing children” is neither factual nor credible.  Overwhelmingly, the available evidence of the provincial death certificates and the extant federal government inquiries into student deaths show that the death of every child who died while registered at a residential school was investigated and that each child was given a proper burial, usually on his or her home reserve.  The “thousands of missing children” claim is totally false.

The report stated further that the death records for students who attended the B.C. residential schools disclosed the following:

Of the 2,800 names on the NCTR Memorial Register, 416 are the names of children who died while registered at BC’s 18 residential schools.

So far, death records have been found for 225 of these 416 former B.C. residential school students.

There are 51 names on the NCTR listed specifically for the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Death records have been found for 35 of these 51 former students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

He stated that these death certificates prove that 220 of the children are not missing at all. Most did not die at residential schools and most are buried in their home reserves.

  1. Research August 7, 2021 by Professor Hymie Rubenstein, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Manitoba (https://c2cjournal.ca/2021/08/digging-for-the-truth-in-canadas-residential-schools-graves-part-two/ ).

See also Professor Rubenstein’s website: (https://substack.com/profile/70014671-hymie-rubenstein ), for further background information on residential schools

Professor Rubenstein taught indigenous issues at the University of Manitoba for 31 years.  According to his research, residential schools constituted only a minority of schools – and sometimes a small minority of schools for indigenous children.  Most children attended day schools on the reserves and they returned home to their families at the end of the school day. Professor Rubenstein stated, “… it is impossible to argue these numerically-dominant day schools constituted ‘forcible removal’ or any type of ‘genocide’ alleged by the TRC, given that the students lived with their parents while in school”.

  1. Report, March 1, 2022 by Professor Tom Flanagan, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, University of Calgary and Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge of the Manitoba Provincial Court (https://www.dorchesterreview.ca/blogs/news/the-false-narrative-of-irs-burials )

This report stated:

There is no documentary evidence to support these stories.  There is no record, for example, of a single student being murdered at a residential school – never mind thousands – in the 113-year history of residential schools.  Nor – and this is key – are there any records of indigenous parents claiming that their children went to residential schools “never to be seen again”, as claimed by Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner, Marie Wilson.

In their report, the authors further stated that considerable damage has been caused to the Christian faith in Canada by the steady stream of allegations about residential schools:

This anti-Christian sentiment has been largely directed against the Catholic Church and the Catholic religious orders which operated and staffed many residential schools.  Although Catholic-run institutions comprised only 43% of all Indian residential schools in Canada, Catholic residential schools occupy most of the media coverage of these alleged atrocities.

Please see also, an article titled, “Some Other Truths about Indian Residential Schools”, posted in the C2C Journal on May 15, 2019 (https://c2cjournal.ca/2015/05/some-other-truths-about-indian-residential-schools/ ), written by Rodney Clifton, Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and co-editor of articles titled, From Truth comes Reconciliation:  Assessing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, July 2021.  Professor Clifton worked as the Senior Boys’ supervisor in Stringer Hall, the Anglican residence in Inuvik, NWT, from 1966 to 1967 and resident at the Old Sun Anglican Residential School on the Blackfoot Reserve.


There is obviously much research still to be done on the residential schools. What is needed, however, is an objective and impartial investigation by independent researchers.

The information on residential schools, referred to above, does not imply that there was no abuse of students in the residential schools.  Sadly, there are always individuals who take advantage of children, exploit, and abuse them.  This is true whether by physicians, lawyers, teachers, neighbours, friends or even families.  It is unlikely, therefore, that the residential schools escaped this evil, as even children at expensive, private boarding schools have been abused.  Students who were abused in these residential schools must be compensated and have their pain and suffering acknowledged. However, the claims that abuse was rampant, and that all the children who attended these schools suffered, is unreasonable.  The current narrative does a grave disservice to those many dedicated teachers and caregivers in the residential schools, who, for over 100 years, dedicated their lives to these children.  Their good work is evidenced by the many fine men and women who attended these schools and later made a contribution to this country in many fields, including the arts, politics, the professions, the business world, and as responsible parents. It is gratifying that these indigenous students were provided with the opportunity to be educated, whether in the residential schools or in the day schools located in their reserves.

The children’s experiences in these schools may not have been perfect, but the schools were not the centres of abuse, as contended by the TRC report.