“We always hear stories of all the kids who were killed at Kuper Island. A graveyard for the babies of the priests and girls was right south of the school until it was dug up by the priests when the school closed in 1973. The nuns would abort babies and sometimes end up killing the mothers.
“There were a lot of disappearances. My mother, who is 83 now, saw a priest drag a girl down a flight of stairs by her hair and the girl died as a result. Girls were raped and killed, and buried under the floorboards. We asked the local RCMP to exhume that place and search for remains but they’ve always refused, as recently as 1996. Corporal Sampson even threatened us. That kind of cover-up is the norm.
“Children were put together with kids sick with TB in the infirmary. That was standard procedure. We’ve documented thirty five outright murders in a seven year period.” (Testimony of Diane Harris to the IHRAAM Tribunal, June 13, 1998)
“I found a little body in the weeds of the school in the fall of 1965. We were playing soccer and found her. She was maybe eight or nine and looked like she had been there awhile. I told Andrews, the Principal, and he got really mad and told me never to tell anyone. No cops ever interviewed me about it. But I got threatened by Andrews that I’d be in deep shit if I ever said anything. A Mountie came to the school a few months later and told me the same thing. I thought that was pretty strange: a cop telling me not to mention a dead body. “(Testimony of Dennis Tallio to IHRAAM officers, Vancouver, BC, February 3, 1998).
To have done this, the residential school system had to not only hide the evidence of murder but the bodies as well. The presence of secret gravesites of children killed at Catholic and Protestant schools in Sardis, Port Alberni, Kuper Island and Alert Bay has been attested to by numerous witnesses. These secret burial yards also contained the aborted fetuses and even small babies who were the offspring of priests and staff at the schools, according to the same witnesses. One of them, Ethel Wilson of Bella Bella, claims to have seen “rows and rows of tiny skeletons” in the foundation of the former Anglican residential school of St. Michael’s in Alert Bay, when a new school was built there in the 1960’s.
“All of us used to talk of the kids who would disappear and of the bodies down in the basement. It wasn’t a surprise at all when those skeletons were found under the floor of the old school in the sixties. Barbara Hanuse of Campbell River knows the whole story. We all knew we’d end up like those poor kids unless we defended ourselves against the staff, so I was taught how to use a knife when I was only ten.” (Testimony of Vera Hunt, May 23, 1998).
The priests dug up the secret gravesite in a real hurry around 1972, when the school closed. No-one was allowed to watch them dig up those remains. I think it’s because that was a specially secret graveyard where the bodies of the pregnant girls were buried. Some of the girls who got pregnant from the priests were actually killed because they threatened to talk. They were sometimes shipped out and sometimes just disappeared. We weren’t allowed to talk about this.”(Testimony of Arnold Sylvester to Kevin Annett, Duncan, BC, August 13, 1998).
“They used the Gauntlet on a boy and girl who were caught together kissing. The two of them had to crawl naked down a line of other students, and we beat them with sticks and whips provided by the Principal. The girl was beaten so badly she died from kidney failure. That gave us all a good lesson: if you tried having normal feelings for someone, you’d get killed for it. So we quickly learned never to love or trust anyone, just do what we were told to do. “(Testimony of anonymous woman from the Pacheedat Nation, Port Renfrew, BC, October 12, 1996).
Scores of survivors of ten different residential schools in BC and Ontario have described under oath the following tortures inflicted on them and other children as young as five years old between the years 1922 and 1984:
– tightening fish twine and wire around boys’ penises
– sticking needles into their hands, cheeks, tongues, ears and penises
– holding them over open graves and threatening to bury them alive
– forcing them to eat maggot-filled and regurgitated food
– telling them their parents were dead and that they were about to be killed
– stripping them naked in front of the assembled school and verbally and sexually degrading them
– forcing them to stand upright for more than twelve hours at a time until they collapsed
-immersing them in ice water
– forcing them to sleep outside in winter
– ripping the hair from their heads
– repeatedly smashing their heads against concrete or wooden surfaces
– daily beating them without warning, using whips, sticks, horse harnesses, studded metal straps, pool cues and iron pipes
– extracting gold teeth from their mouths without painkillers
– confining them in unventilated closets without food or water for days
– regularly applying electric shocks to their heads, genitals and limbs
“The church people were worshipping the devil, not us. They wanted the gold, the coal, the land we occupied. So they terrorized us into giving it to them. How does a man who was raped every day when he was seven make anything out of his life? The residential schools were set up to destroy our lives, and they succeeded. The whites were terrorists, pure and simple.” (Testimony of Bill Seward to Kevin Annett and IHRAAM observers, Duncan, BC, August 13, 1998).
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