Letter – Headline horribly inaccurate

I was deeply dismayed by the headline on the front page of South Peace News’ June 9, edition: ‘Walk remembers murdered children’.

Like most people in Canada, I feel great sadness that so many young people [from a residential school in Kamloops] ended up in a mass or unmarked graves. If indeed, those children were murdered by a democratically elected Canadian government, I have no words to express my disdain.

However, in the research I’ve done, the South Peace News is the only news source to confirm that the children were murdered. That causes me concern.

Mass gravesites are not places of celebration. The deaths of many people simultaneously is cause for instant suspicion. That each death was not “properly addressed” also causes us anxiety. Our culture norms expect an appropriate recognition of each life lived.

History has witnessed many examples of mass graves. In the case of the Nazi attempts to exterminate the Jews, for example, thousands of bodies were dumped into mass graves, in a vain attempt to hide the horrendous crimes that were committed.

In a more recent example, thousands of bodies were placed in a mass grave in New York, in a desperate attempt to deal with the aftermath of a global pandemic.

I don’t have the vocabulary to condemn those who committed the atrocities in Europe against the Jews. It’s a demonstration of the worst actions capable by our race.

Nor do I have the words to console those highly skilled medical practitioners in New York, who often had the unpleasant task of triage – deciding whom to provide limited medical facilities to – and who simply had to die. Many of those folks worked themselves to a state of exhaustion; some died. They risked their lives, sacrificed their families, often to see their best efforts result in another casualty – another body thrown into a mass grave.

Two examples of mass graves, two very different circumstances. One worthy of great condemnation, the other of great empathy.

The title of this article suggests that the children in Kamloops were murdered. If this is true, I am totally appalled.

Given the global pandemic we have all experienced over the last year, however, it’s entirely possible that the children who are buried in Kamloops died from a disease outbreak, and were placed in a mass grave, or unmarked graves, much like the people in New York, as caregivers panicked in how to deal with the disease.

If that was the case, I can only imagine the grief that those caregivers who worked with those children on a daily basis would have faced. Much like the doctors in New York, he would have made many difficult decisions, and were devastated with each death.

And like the folks in New York, a mass grave would have been heartbreaking.

Given the negative connotations that are associated with residential schools, it may appear that the connection with the mass graves and “murder” are an easy fit. Regardless of the cause of their deaths, the loss of so many young people is indeed as tragedy.

However, to prematurely assume they were “murdered”, not knowing the facts of how they died, is wrong. If indeed, a medical condition – a pandemic similar to what all of Canada experienced just after the First World War – hit the community in Kamloops, the results could easily explain the mass graves.

If New York, in 2021, with access to the most modern medicine this world has had access to, resorted to mass graves in a pandemic, the same could easily have happened in Kamloops many decades ago.

The deaths of the children in Kamloops is indeed a tragedy. Murder? This is yet unproven. To make that assumption without knowing the facts is irresponsible journalism, and only promotes discontent.

If the author of this article is not 100 per cent certain that these children were murdered, the South Peace News owes it to their readers to address their conviction.

Bob Heyde,
Salt Prairie.

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One thought on “Letter – Headline horribly inaccurate

  1. Is murder so different than criminal negligence causing death? The Canadian government and the Roman Catholic church 100% own each and every death at Canadian residential schools as the children were stolen from their families in the first place. Arguing semantics regarding the cause of death in view of that responsibility is wrong. Rest assured the cause of deaths ranges somewhere between murder and accidental/natural. That’s not to be construed as making excuses for these deaths. There is no excuse for these deaths. It’s way past time that the responsible parties admitted their role in these atrocities in order that healing can begin to take place. My heart goes out to all those affected …


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