Update: More details debunking this (sick) myth can be found on Heather Martin’s website here.
There’s a new, sick, hoax going around about Canada’s Indian residential schools. The story is that an “unmarked mass grave” was discovered at the site of a former United Church of Canada residential school in Port Alberni, BC. Some genius created a webpage for it on Causes.com, including the grisly picture you can see in the above screenshot.
Reflective of the Internet’s never-ending supply of idiots, numerous people have chimed in with their comments of how horrible this situation is. And, depending on the backstory, it could be a truly horrible situation, if it was true that is. The reality is that it’s an absolute fabrication- another fake mass grave brought to us by relentless con-artist (and abuser of residential school survivors) Kevin Annett.
The story was first brought to us in December 2013, when Annett announced with fellow con-artist Alfred Webre that a mass grave had been found in Port Alberni. This isn’t Annett’s first time claiming to have discovered a mass grave. The last one, in Ontario in 2011, was such a fiasco that the Aboriginal People’s Television Network did a full-length show unmasking Annett’s fraud.
The picture being shared about the ‘mass grave’ actually wasn’t taken in Canada. If you look closely, you will notice that the police tape is in another language. It only took a few minutes to find the original picture- it was taken in 2005 at the site of a mass grave in Srebenica, Bosnia Herzegovina. People, please think before you share this crap!
You’re revictimizing the people you think you’re helping…
People also forget the historical context of residential schools and the fact that many had gravesites nearby. Prior to the 1950’s TB was the common killer of ALL Canadians; 90% of aboriginals were infected (and had been carriers of scrufola prior to much contact with Europeans – which is a manifestation of TB). It was then and is now forbidden to transport bodies of those died from contagious diseases across provincial borders. The Spanish Flu of 1918 was also virulently deadly; people were buried on the spot. There are legitimate reasons for the existence of grave sites, and many deaths are attributable to these common diseases.
Except that this mass grave does not exist in Port Alberni at all, the photo is from a site in Bosnia. The residential schools are recent enough that they would not just toss the victims of any epidemic in an unmarked pit, there would have been proper graves even for aboriginals.