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.)
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.
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 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.
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?
Full disclosure: EC, author of this blog post, is a proud registered citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Her maternal Métis ancestors come from Kinosota and the Ebb and Flow Reserve in Manitoba, while her paternal ancestors’ identities were deliberately hidden from the family. She continues to research them, in hopes of restoring their names and their rightful place in history.
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: