by Harvey Oberfeld
July 12, 2021
Beau and Dian Sutton had a dream.
In 2014, they bought a hilly half-acre wooded lot near Chilliwack River to build a home.
Then someone told them part of their property “might” be an indigenous gravesite.
There were NO grave-markers, NO symbols, NO plaque … NOTHING showing any special acknowledgement or even respect for that particular site.
Then, as CBC reported at the time, a local First Nations chief “felt his ancestors were buried there and that he had a responsibility to protect them.”
Where were he and all his relations for the years, decades before? There was nothing to mark the gravesites of their former relatives or band members … no symbols, no markers, no plaque, nothing to show respect, let alone “protect”, the men, women, elders and, yes, children buried there.
But the Sutton’s dream turned into a nightmare … after the local band suddenly developed interest in a site they had ignored for decades … or more.
The TRUTH is there are THOUSANDS of First Nations children, adults and elders who lie buried by their own people all across Canada in unmarked graves … without any memorials, monuments or plaques of any kind.
In Saanich, outside Victoria, construction of a $1 million home was halted after discovery of an unmarked Songhees First Nations grave; in Montreal, the site of a 27-story office tower was also stopped when unmarked graves were found; and, in Vancouver, a piece of a paved parking lot at the foot of Granville and Marine Drive was found to be an unmarked Musqueam burial ground.
Anyone who searches the topic on Google will be amazed …and maybe appalled … at how many such instances have been uncovered … First Nations burial sites totally unmarked and then neglected and ignored by First Nations peoples themselves right across Canada.
The TRUTH is unmarked burial sites have long been part of the history, respected tradition and culture of the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
Although you would never know that watching the news lately!
Where are the tears, anger, demands by First Nations activists directed at THEIR OWN leaders, THEIR OWN band councils, THEIR OWN tribal members to fund THEIR OWN identification and proper burials of their own people lying in unmarked graves?
The tragedy of Canadian Residential Schools, and the discovery of unmarked graves, apparently by white school/government officials in the last Century, however, has changed the “conversation”.
Canadians now recognize those schools were a terrible, misdirected, brutal stain on our country’s history …. in the the last century.
But so was the federal government’s treatment of the Chinese, Japanese, East Indians, Jews, Muslims, blacks … and, at various times, even the Irish, Italians and Germans in the 1900s. Not to mention the terrible societal discrimination they ALL faced trying to buy homes in certain areas, get into universities or join social clubs or golf courses.
Canada, like other nations, does indeed have an imperfect past … but let’s keep it real: so does EVERY other nation … and that includes Canada’s First Nations.
But you would never know that watching the one-sided, pandering news coverage by the CBC “public” broadcaster or other Canadian private networks pushing the First Nations’ activist agenda.
I believe millions of Canadians are not buying it … and are actually becoming more resentful of the various governments’ pandering to the radicals.
Civilized peoples seeking REAL reconciliation deal with uncomfortable TRUTHS through dialogue, mutual self-examination and understandings … not the one-sided “holier than thou” attitudes, and finger-pointing Canadians have witnessed from First Nations’ activists and mouthpieces in recent months.
Vandalizing statues, tearing down monuments, disrespecting Canadian national holidays, spitting on Canada’s history (during which, by the way, thousands of First Nations’ heroes served the country loyally and valiantly) or trying to extort millions from the taxpayers will only make things worse, not better.
I put it to you millions of Canadians, in fact, resent what they see happening across the country.
You won’t ever hear THEIR voices on Canada’s intimidated, compromised politicized advocacy-driven “news” media … but talk to REAL Canadians (not just the professional political, pandering community “experts”) and you’ll discover how millions of Canadians are not buying into the First Nations activists’ shakedown agenda.
Which is why REAL RECONCILIATION is not happening across the country!
TRUE reconciliation requires facing REAL TRUTHS and looking forward … not backwards; working together for our future … not rehashing our history; and, not trying to shake down the federal government for more hundreds of millions of dollars!
So why ARE we seeing so many increasing demands, so much agitation, hate, violence, vandalism and destruction?
Because activists, agitators and anarchists see dissention, disruption and violence as an increasingly successful way to extort concessions from governments and also cash in themselves for hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds.
Weak politicians at all levels are caving in far too easily, willing to pander to too many demands, in the hope of buying peace … and First Nations votes.
More and more Canadians from coast to coast to coast are tiring of what they have been witnessing for months now.
It is NOT the way for First Nations to win friends and influence people … nor ever achieve REAL “reconciliation”.
(Image: Courtesy of delmarvanow.com)
Thx Harvey….you make TOTAL sense & I’m one of those millions of Cdns who won’t buy into the idea that spending billions more on reparation/reconciliation for First Nation’s or any other group is off the table.
We will continue to be an underperforming nation as long as we keep trying to repair our past…
Maybe those unmarked graves developed and built over are unmarked because the Indigenous people back then choose to bury their dead but did not bother or feel a need to mark the graves. After all short of probably some Coastal Indians on both coasts, the North American Indians were quite nomadic and had no real set lands/developments. This would answer burying their dead and not marking the graves for they may not come back there any time soon. Many burned their dead anyways if I recall.
It is stupid to automatically assume that developing and building on lands where in doing so graves are found to be then some white man’s scourge. BULLSHIT TO THAT!
When old unmarked graves are dug up in developments then the only reasonable solution is to surrender the remains to what would likely be the most plausible Indigenous Nation’s people for them to ceremonially rebury the remains on their own treaty land. WHY MUST IT BECOME A POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CRAP SHOW?!
As for reconciliation IT’S BEEN DONE GET THE HELL OVER IT! The North American Indian is not the only demographic to have been mistreated, seen war upon it, persecuted and genocided in history. THE WHOLE WORLD HAS EXAMPLES OF SUCH! You are not singularly special. GET OVER IT!
Get over sucking off the government tit of welfare all done to buy your votes and yes keep you in poverty as result. Just like the Blacks in the USA, same crap different day. STOP WHINING! North America is not going to go back to 1400 A.D. or older. The world is full of travesties, conflicts, genocides and tragedies. MOVE THE HELL ON IN LIFE! Develop your treaty lands and get a move on!
The pill of reality is often bitter, so swallow it quickly and get on with life.
So true Harvey
We wonder where if not from the life of residential schools did these seemingly knowledgeable Natives receive their early education to fit in today and yesterdays society. Where would these children be in life if not having had a modern day education. You can only do so much with Elder’s teaching about spirits,hunting and fishing!
I was talking about this with friends the other day. I’m not here to excuse any abuses that may have been done in Residential Schools, but to think no learning was given is wrong headed. I am sure some native families wanted their children to go to such schools (BTW I understand that many white children from notably rural areas went to some of these schools too) in order for the children of the day to better live in what was going to be a changing society and Indigenous Peoples had at the time better get on with fitting in.
Look, government mishandling of Native Indians especially with welfare and making them essentially wards of the state was bad enough. It was not going to be helpful among the children. I’m certain that there was some good education too. Abuse and mistreatment of the Native Indian children was wrong then and would be today, but to keep our Indigenous peoples stuck in 1700 or 1800 A.D. would have been worse and probably would have killed off all of the Indigenous peoples.
Yes, STUPID, RETARDED, HATEFUL MARXIST-SOCIALISTS, LIBERALS, LEFTISTS OF ALL STRIPES HATE WESTERN (MOSTLY WHITE EUROPEAN BASED) CULTURE! But western world culture, science, economics, Christianity, democratic values and justice as flawed as all have been was all the single greatest thing to ever happen to the planet Earth. No one culture/society has done more for the advancement of mankind and life over the last 250+ years than the European/Christian based western world culture. Without it most of the world would be living a menial, subsistence life and dying sickly, young and miserable.
NOBODY IN THE WESTEN WORLD PAST OR PRESENT OWES ANY OTHER ANY MORE APOLOGIES THAN THOSE TO BE EXPECTED FROM OTHERS TOWARDS THE WESTERN WORLD!
TURN THE DAMNED PAGE AND STOP PLAYING FOREVER THE VICTIM CARD! IT’S WORN OUT NOW!
I agree. We white people had to work for everything we got and did not rely on the government for handouts. It’s time these people moved on and quit living in the past.
Excellent article. Unfortunately, big media is mostly one-sided and biased “politically correct” to keep collecting the Govt (tax dollar) grants.
The DNA of the human being is much the same the world over. To expect that any Nation is material different is not realistic, every Nation has almost the same History.
We have to look to Law and Order to move on and not keep looking at the past.
It is good that more truth is coming out to show that there are two sides to the current story, but I can find no excuse for the cruel, inhumane, and scandalous treatment of the Indigenous children.
No One talks about the mis treatment of young native kids at hands of own Families & relatives. Or the fact that Haida on West Coast & Iroquoi on East Coast wiped out a lot of Other Natives and made them Slaves. No Native grant or Tax free if not 50 % Native.
If More Natives tribes had Leaders like Musqueam & Osooyos Bands the Natives would be in a better situation, Healthier & Financially better
Not at all surprising.
Being brown,yellow,white, black ,liberal, conservative, Christian, Buddhist as a general rule if you do nothing but “give, give” it’s natural to “take, take” .
Eliminate, revise or alter the system that allows this. They don’t realize the loss off independence is a huge price to be paid and becomes generationally endemic.
Disgusting article, and the comments easily as bad. Be careful you folks, your true colors are revealing themselves. Attitudes like this article and these comments are why real reconciliation will never be possible.
OK Connie I will take your point if you tell me this: How come thousands of Indigenous children are being ‘rescued’ from the Reserves even today because of the way they are treated at their ‘homes’? Most of the kids who were transferred from their ‘homes’ to the Residential schools were removed to save them. The same thing is happening today except they are being taken into ‘adoptive’ homes not schools. It was and still is a heartbreaking situation. Some people (the white settlers) think about these Indian children like they think of their own….but this, in too many cases, is far from the truth. I went to high school for two years with a Residential School student ( who moved on) ; He told me the Res. school was the best place he had ever lived. Go figure.
REAL Reconciliation? Harvey Oberfeld Seems to have made a bold claim as to why Reconcilition is NOT happening. the TRC is not unique to Canada and its indigenous peoples and to the settlers of this country. All parties concerned must want it and want to move forward towards a peaceful resolution. Its rarely a neat and tidy process but it has had great success around the globe. Inflammatory rhetoric is one thing, respect and dignity towards each other is another. Harvey as a journalist I assume that facts and truth are values you embrace. Canada is a great country. I suggest reading and contemplating this ground breaking book by experts in T&R. If it worked for South Africa, Northern Ireland and Rwanda it can work here too. Imagine: Reflections on Peace by VII Foundation. Read it and think. What have you got to lose.
Why have they not excavated some of these supposed burial sties, to determine if in fact they contain children, how they died, and put this all to bed.
To my knowledge this has not been done.