Annett’s false claims dishonour residential school victims

Please note: This blog post contains material which may be triggering to some people.

Since the recent revelations that the bodies of 215 children have been discovered on the grounds of the now-empty Tk’emlups Indian Residential School, Kevin Annett’s lies and half-truths have been doing the rounds again on social media.

Even some mainstream journalists are dredging up his old stories and quoting them as fact: this article in Kamloops This Week states,

On the front page of the April 25, 2008, edition of Kamloops This Week was a story by then-reporter (and now Vancouver Sun city editor) Cassidy Olivier, with the headline, “Burial ground — or bogus?”

The story detailed claims by Kevin Annett, spokesman for the Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared, that the land surrounding the former Kamloops Indian Residential School contained the remains of children who once walked the building’s halls.

But Annett’s claims that Tk’emlups was home to a mass grave were met with stiff opposition and severe doubt by local and regional Catholic Church officials, who in 2008 told KTW his allegations rested solely on anecdotal evidence and rumour.

(A possible reason Annett’s claims in 2008 were not taken as seriously as they might have been is the fact he is known for holding beliefs on various matters that are outside the mainstream.)

YA THINK?

Let’s get this straight. Kevin Annett, a defrocked United Church of Canada minister, was removed from his parish when he turned his Sunday sermons into rants about Satanic ritual abuse.

In 2008, in addition to claiming that there were secret graves around various Canadian residential schools (a bit of a no-brainer, as we know many children died in those schools, whether from preventable diseases, neglect, malnutrition, or suicide), Annett claimed that in September 1964, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip took 10 children from the Tk’emlups school, ostensibly for a picnic by a lake. The children, Annett alleged, were made to kiss the monarch’s feet before embarking on this jaunt. According to Annett, they were never seen again.

This allegation can be easily debunked. For one thing, Her Maj and Philip weren’t in Canada in September 1964. While they did visit the country in October of that year, their highly scheduled tour included cities in the eastern third of the country—Ottawa, Charlottetown, and Quebec City. If you’ve ever been to Canada you’ll realise that a quick jaunt from, say, Ottawa to Tk’emlups, would have been a truly amazing feat.

Then again, those darn Satanists can do anything, including travel about 2,500 miles and back without anybody noticing.

Apparently.


What were the residential schools?

Nobody, least of all a non-indigenous scammer with a history of disrespecting those he claims to defend, needs to exaggerate the horrible intent, scope, or impact of Canada’s residential schools.

The schools themselves were put in place in the late 1800s. They were explicitly formed as part of Canada’s attempt to completely destroy its First Nation, Métis, and Inuit cultures, through forced assimilation. Children were forcibly removed from their homes, and were subjected to unbelievable cruelty and callousness.

  • Children were forced to speak English or French, not their own language. Punishment for infractions could range from beating to needles inserted in the tongue.
  • Children were required to adopt the religion of the school they attended.
  • Children were forced to have their hair cut—when First Nation children traditionally do not have haircuts unless a close relative has died.
  • Children were fed inferior food, and often complained of hunger. Some died of malnutrition.
  • Children were subjected to sexual assault, and if they became pregnant, forced abortions.
  • Children were sent outside in cold weather, often in inadequate clothing.
  • Children were not allowed contact with their families. Gifts and letters from home were often withheld.
  • Children were subjected to racist, derogatory language, and were taught that their culture was inferior.
  • Brothers and sisters in the same school were separated and not allowed to speak to one another.
  • Children were locked in closets, cages, or basements for days at a time.
  • Children were forced to eat their own vomit.
  • In at least one school, Ste. Anne’s near Fort Albany, Ontario, a homemade electric chair was used as a form of punishment.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

The Indian Act, a truly despicable piece of governance which, among other things, created Canada’s reserve system, was amended in 1920 so that every First Nation child was forced to attend the residential schools. Alongside First Nation children, Métis and Inuit children were also sent to the schools. While Métis children experienced the same treatment as First Nation and Inuit children—forbidden to speak their own language, etc., they were often marginalised by their peers, as they were considered “outsiders” who were “not Indian enough”.

The Act also forbade millennia-long cultural practices, denied women “Indian status” (meaning children of women who married white men were automatically denied First Nation status), and prohibited First Nations people from leaving or entering the reserve without written permission of the “Indian agent”.

The horrors of the residential schools have been well documented.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), based on a similar endeavour in South Africa following the fall of the apartheid system, began in 2008. Despite a rocky start, under the guidance of Senator Murray Sinclair the Commission gathered approximately 7,000 first-hand atatements from former students of the residential schools. While it was going on, the Commission received extensive news coverage.

The Commission ended its enquiries in 2015, having determined that the residential schools amounted to nothing less than cultural genocide on the part of the Canadian government.

As Senator Sinclair states here, given the statements the Commission received, it’s likely that even more children’s graves will be uncovered, and further investigations will be needed:

Not exactly a secret

Despite Annett’s claims, then, the experiences of children in the residential school system were hardly a secret. Even prior to the TRC, survivors of these schools were speaking out, and the abuses within the schools were well known. Any Canadian who claims to be surprised by the mass grave at Tk’emlups has either been wilfully blind, or just not paying attention.

A study conducted by the head doctor in the Indian department in 1897, for example, showed that one in four First Nation children was unlikely to make it out of the residential schools alive. It was known that some of the children trying to escape from their internment at these schools died in the attempt, and that others were committing suicide.

Annett’s claims—that doctors had been imported from Germany in the 1930s to do medical experiments on students at the Kuper Island residential school in the 1930s, that bodies of children were hidden “between the walls” and under the foundations of the school at Alert Bay, and of course the Queen Elizabeth picnic story—are patently ridiculous, and turn a very serious subject into something that more resembles a circus freak show.

Worse, Annett has taken verified fact—such as the homemade electric chair at Ste. Anne’s school—and twisted it into ludicrous fiction, claiming that children were actually murdered, not tortured, on the chair. As if torturing children were not sufficiently awful?

No more ‘Eagle Strong Voice’

Annett has been repudiated by various First Nations.

For example, in 2014 Mohawk political activist Kahn-Tineta Horn stated:

Rev. Kevin Annett, a non-Indian, and his followers are nullifying Canada and proclaiming the “Republic of Kanata” on January 1, 2015, in Winnipeg. It will be on all our unsurrendered Indigenous land known as “Canada”. The Iroquois Confederacy symbolism is being used without our permission, such as the Tree of Peace with the Eagle at the top and the roots spreading in the four directions. He is going to nationalize our land, restrict ownership to 160 acres each, establish a citizen’s militia, lower the voting age to 16 and abolish income tax.

Rev. Annett did not ask us for permission to set up their new corporation or republic. He is recruiting settlers to join a new corporation or rogue state with a hierarchical corporate system.

Rev. Annett cannot legitimize himself by recruiting Indians to support his company to make it appear like he’s got Indigenous support. He can have authority only over those who give him their rights.  All traditional Indigenous nations in the Western Hemisphere adhere to the principles of the Great Peace. Those Indigenous who support him lose their claim to the land, Ongwehonweh name, clan and forfeit their birthright.

And in 2012, the Mohawk Elders of Kanyen’kehákah stated that they had originally contacted Annett in 2011, hoping that he could help them bring “justice and closure to families and survivors of the residential school experience”.

Annett promised that he would bring qualified archaeologists to the residential school in Brantford, Ontario, to conduct searches for the graves of children who had died at the school. Despite a written undertaking that he would conduct his investigation in confidence, Annett (under the name Jeremiah Jordan) breached confidentiality via blog posts, radio and television interviews, and the like.

Worse, at a Toronto “Occupy” gathering, Annett reached into his pocket and pulled out a bone, which he claimed was a child’s bone obtained in the dig at Brantford.

Annett waving a “child’s bone” about

In the unlikely event that this really was the bone of a child who perished at the Brantford Residential School, what kind of person could stand there, casually waving it around? To call this “disrespectful” is the very mildest understatement. Words like “disgusting” and “exploitative” come to mind as well. In any case, there is a great deal of doubt as to the provenance of the bone. Annett has told several different stories about it, claiming at various times that the bones had not been DNA-tested, then that they had, and finally that the alleged scientists were divided in their opinion—and those who thought it was an animal bone were participating in a cover-up. Because of course they were.

In this 2012 video, the Kanyen’kehákah elders state quite clearly that they want nothing more to do with Annett:

They also rescinded the Mohawk name they had given him, which translates to “Eagle Strong Voice”. Of course this has not deterred Annett from continuing to use the name, any more than being defrocked by the United Church has dissuaded him from calling himself “Reverend” Annett.

Annett’s response to those who dispute his warped version of reality is typical: anyone questioning him on the matter is clearly complicit in some sort of mass cover-up. [That has a familiar ring to it—Ed.]

His followers, like Hampstead hoax believers, use the same tactic:

So the Elders were the ones hiding something? Seriously?

Perhaps they still wanted the search, but not Annett, who appeared more interested in self-aggrandisement than anything resembling the truth?


Further information

In 2012, Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) produced an excellent exposé of Annett’s exaggerations and fraudulent claims. You can view it via the following links:


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

53 thoughts on “Annett’s false claims dishonour residential school victims

  1. A decidedly emotive subject. The finding of bodies, particularly children’s is so horrific, especially to relatives who may have wondered what had happened to their children as they were not allowed to keep in touch after the children were sent to the schools & of course, if children are taken young, they will be more used to their new surroundings & because of so much forcing them to forget their own language, family & friends, their young minds are eventually going to forget or indeed compartamentalise their memories, some would think they were dreams whilst others old enough to realise what their new life was about, could simply wish to keep the memories at bay so that they would not feel the heartbreaking & mental anguish every second, knowing they may never see their loved ones again.
    Arnett is a snake, a slug of the highest order, anyone profiting from children & families pain is the lowest of the low.
    How those families & children suffered is horrific, I cannot imagine that pain & heartache that they all went though.
    History & the cruelty of those days, is very cruel.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, many of us in Canada are in grief over it, even though we are all familiar with the stories. Having someone like Annett or his followers compound matters is just salt on the wound.

      Liked by 3 people

    • We are yet to find out how these children died which may have been from all sorts of ailments despite the disrespectful manner in which they were treated and buried.

      Is this similar to the claims of the “dozens ” of Irish children’s bodies allegedly discovered in a sewer in Ireland yet the original researcher desperately tried to correct the inaccurate newspaper reports that she had never claimed they were buried in a sewer, rather that record showed there were perhaps 100s whose resting place were not recorded, given there were so many deaths of children in Ireland in the early 20th century due to disease and neglect.

      Archaeologists are still painstakingly excavating the precarious sewer site and have found bones (not 100s of bodies) but that old maxim that “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on” is not helped by malicious fantasists like Kevin Annett.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Ultimately, I think the main thing for these poor children is that whatever the causes of death, they died far from their families, and their families never knew exactly what had become of them. Annett and other ghouls would like to twist the narrative for their own ends, and I believe it’s important to honour the children and their families by stopping them.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Years ago I worked doing research for a UK / Oz TV series ‘The Leaving of Liverpool’ about British kids sent to Australia in the 1950s. Some kids were shockingly abused there and mis-treated, others had a happy life including one who went onto become a successful politician and Chairman of the ABC Broadcasting.
          But many were told terrible lies including that their parents were dead or did not want them any more.
          I cannot understand how anyone can mistreat children like this and be so cruel and yet claim to be looking after their welfare.
          Indigenous children everywhere have been badly mistreated.

          Liked by 2 people

            • Convenience.
              Children who had been put in orphanages or homes for many reasons. The British government outsourcing an ongoing “problem”. Tragically many single mothers especially in Ireland were forced to give up their children and in most cases the parents were not told the kids were being sent abroad.
              Some cases were so distressing with brothers and sisters split up for no reason and not told where their siblings had gone (lots of tearful reconciliations in later life) and tears from me reading how an 8 year old boy was separated from his 10 year old brother. Why? PM Kevin Rudd eventually apologized in Parliament.

              It was sold on the strength they were going on a wonderful adventure to the other side of the word but so many ended up working almost as slaves at Monasteries and Convents ( Both Catholic and Anglican)..
              Many were mistreated especially sexually. Yet many did prosper like David Hill who eventually became the Chairman of the ABC and a very successful businessman. He says he saw nothing of the abuse and was treated kindly by the Nuns. Luck of the draw I guess.
              Some thrived and had a good life but there were many victims.
              Playthings for evil people. And then leaches like Annett come along.

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            • So odd how some (riveting) comments vanish if you aren’t logged in?

              I think it must have been over 25 years ago now but these were children placed in orphanages and many children from single mothers who had been bullied into giving them up in the day’s idiotic “morality”.

              I gather it was really the British (and Irish) governments outsourcing a problem combined with Australia ramping up immigration so a supply of “homeless” kids were available.
              Not all had terrible lives and some prospered as the previous mentioned David Hill who says he was treated kindly by Nuns and eventually became very successful and Chairman of the ABC. Some prominent successful business names are among them but many were treated badly and often almost like slave labor at country monasteries and convents (both Catholic and Anglican churches).

              I recall reading one of a middle aged gents harrowing mental problems caused by his relationship with a kind priest who he almost worshiped who nonetheless, sexually abused him almost nightly, Trying to reconcile the two aspects almost sent him crazy in later life. Other priests could be incredibly physically vicious yet many kids told of the kindness of some of the nuns (who had often been orphans themselves).
              The children were always told they were off on an adventure on the other side of the world. For some it possibly was compared to a fairly grim life they left behind with little prospects but there were some bizarre inexplicable actions. I teared up reading the account of an 8 year old boy separated from his 10 year old brother for no good reason as both were sent to separate homes and not old were each other was. They met up again int heir 40s after a battle to access records.
              PM Kevin Rudd eventually apologised in Parliament.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Life was so cruel to children then, nobody thought how that would affect them in life, just disregarded their feelings seems like.
                Yes it looks like some fared better than others, but sadly for others it didn’t.
                My other half’s family discovered a cousin (1st cousin) in Australia approx 5 years ago. Is younger ones were stunned, elders held their tongues as they always had, mother-in-law flatly refused to talk about it or meet said cousin at a family get together. However she did relent when cousin went to visit her thankfully. Cousin held no animosity, she was born to an unwed mother back in the day & had been spirited off by nuns to Australia, funnily enough, she has now taken her vows & is in her early 60’s.

                Liked by 2 people

              • Yes, Canada had a “Home Children” programme too, in which poor and orphaned children from the UK would be sent here to be adopted by Canadian families. A great many went to live on farms, but they were often used as unpaid labour, underfed, treated poorly, and completely cut off from all friends and family.

                The brutal callousness routinely shown to children in those days is really quite stunning to us now.

                Liked by 2 people

      • There’s now a call to inspect the grounds of all of the residential schools in Canada. I’d like them to do the same in Ireland too. You didn’t have to be the child of an unwed mother in Ireland to be treated this way. There were many orphans and children taken into ‘care’, such as it was. If you were poor you got sod all in the way of ‘care’.
        The lack of care, disrespect and callousness towards the deceased and their families goes beyond anything I can imagine.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Yes, the technology is now available to “see” what’s under the ground in these places. I understand that the person who operated the ground-penetrating radar was weeping the entire time, so kudos for continuing. But this information, painful as it is, is needed, both in Canada and other places with similar histories.

          Liked by 3 people

          • I’m pretty sure if they did similar in country monasteries and convents in Australia some bodies may be found. Children are fragile things of course and can die from many ailments but the notion they are just buried and forgotten with no memorial seems so cruel.

            Liked by 2 people

          • The confusion, shame, and guilt that children must feel when a person is simultaneously kind yet sexually exploitative/abusive…it really does boggle the mind. The sad part is that so many children suffered in silence, never realising that what they’d experienced was abuse until perhaps years later.

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  2. Well researched article.
    Kevin Annett is a despicable person and despite his lofty claims of organizations that imply many people belong to his outfits, is just a one man band of suspect actions.
    I recall a band of nutcase followers entering a UK church (on his instructions) and haranguing priests and parishioners and claiming they were taking over the church but were soon sent packing. One amusing moment was when the group were talking to a policeman outside the Church and they made claims of Satanic abuse and he calmly told them to send their claims in a letter to the local police station.
    Another time he conducted am “international” phone-in with another nutcase who makes all sorts of bizarre claims but it was soon evident that Annett was speaking in his bathroom to his pal who was in the living room and the pair ridiculously changed places the next time which was so evident from Annett’s easily recognizable decor.

    It shows the awful desperation of Indigenous Canadians that they mistakenly reached out to this vile person.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Yes, I believe they must have been desperate to know what happened to so many of the children who’d attended the school at Brantford–it’s a pity they believed in Annett, who in my opinion cynically took advantage of their desperation. However, all credit to them for eventually seeing through his lies and disavowing him.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. What I find particularly sad are the stories of children commiting suicide, at a time in their lives when they should be happy, innocent and cared for it speaks volumes of their treatment.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, it really does say a lot. The fact that so many children tried to escape—often into the remote wilderness, and at least once into the Pacific Ocean surrounding Kuper Island—tells us how desperate they must have felt.

      I haven’t even touched upon the generational impacts of those schools, but they were profound and devastating. Annett has no business trying to co-opt these experiences and taint them with his lies.

      Liked by 3 people

    • These early beginnings and traumas can set people up for a life of failures through no fault of their own.
      Just so puzzled that those claiming to be guarding the welfare of children can often be so cruel.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Native peoples from many countries have always had a hard time being taken seriously by the authorities.This kind of water muddying will only make it more difficult for the public to get a clear picture of what the first nation has endured.Its usually the public who push for information and with this debacle they may just put the whole thing down to a bad job and wash their hands of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I think it goes far beyond being taken seriously. In fact, the colonising countries—England and France—saw the nations who’d been here for millennia as inferior, a nuisance who must be either assimilated or exterminated.

      We were taught in school that “there was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run…long before the white man and long before the wheel, when the deep dark forests were too silent to be real”. (Thanks, Gordon Lightfoot.) In fact, though, Turtle Island was home to a wide variety of unique nations, from coast to coast to coast, who fought wars, negotiated territory, traded, made treaties, and basically behaved exactly as one would expect a number of diverse cultures to act—just as analogous nations did on other continents.

      The Europeans who arrived here assumed from the outset that the people they encountered were ignorant savages, easily wiped out to make way for “civilisation”. The residential schools were just one more attempt to exterminate the continent’s first people. The schools didn’t quite work, but they inflicted terrible damage.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. The story (stories) of the First Nation children is sad enough without the likes of KE embroidering it (them).

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Going back several years I knew a lady whose house backed on to Orphanage Road in Erdington. I remember her saying that her husband had remarked (when there was some redevelopment and there was something concerning the orphanage graveyard) “Nobody wanted them when they were alive and nobody wants them when they’re dead” (paraphrasing obviously). From looking around the internet it seems that in its time that orphanage was reasonably well considered. Now I think of it, writers like Dickens and Charlotte Bronte wrote about how dire some boarding schools were in Victorian times (for example the characters of Smike and Jane Eyre’s friend who died).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Maybe the survivors (or people with relations in) the First Nation Schools were pleased to find someone who was apparently on their side. That’s why people like Wedgehog and Eyebrows are (in my opinion) so darn dangerous – though with CSA survivors closer to home, not in the UK.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry – should have said ‘not in Canada’ rather than ‘not in the UK’.

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    • Yes, I think that’s absolutely right, CAW. For example, I’ve heard from individuals who trusted Annett, who promised to help them with their allegations of terrible childhood abuse, but only let them down. To my mind, this compounds the original abuse, and makes it even harder for the victims to reach out for help.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Arnett could have been much more effective in his grifting, and could have done a lot more damage. As it is, he is so blatant with his agenda of self-aggrandisement that the First Nation groups he tried to exploit soon realised that he was not there to help them.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. The orphanage (closed a long time now) that I referred was the Josiah Mason Orphanage in Erdington, Birmingham. Not perhaps as horrific as the First Nations schools scandal, but people probably know it took a heck of a long time for British Sign Language to be recognised as a language. (I was studying BSL pre-pandemic; languages are supposed to help keep the memory function of the brain alert and as an oldster I need all the help I can get). Things like stopping deaf children signing and discouraging Welsh children from speaking Welsh seem so wrong nowadays. Though no-one died from being forced to speak English so it’s less serious than what took place in the First Nations schools but still not right.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s not overt torture, to be sure, but it’s a form of disrespect and put-down that can resonate in a child’s mind for the rest of their life.

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  9. I’ve spent quite a lot of time on the internet over the last week because I pulled a low back muscle and couldn’t do much housework (mind you I’m not the best housekeeper at any time). I need to break away and do some real life stuff but I just had a look at Shaun Twittwood’s channel and I’m hopping mad. He’s done a video about the findings at Kamloops. Honestly, is there nothing that man won’t jump on to drive traffic to his channel. Unfortunately looking at the comments some of his followers believe the Annet narrative – don’t believe it was debunked blah-de-blah-de-blah.. I didn’t listen to the video to be honest because I don’t want to give him views.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately that’s inevitable, and it’s one reason I wrote this blog post. Annett has been Attwood’s guest—twice I believe—so it’s not too surprising his followers would ignorantly parrot the lies.

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