Kamloops Indian Residential School
The media release on 27 May 2021 which stated that ‘the remains of 215 children’ had been found using ground penetrating radar (GPR)1 at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School shocked the world.
It is well established that GPR cannot locate human remains. It can only locate soil disturbances beneath the ground. Excavation must take place before it can be determined what those soil disturbances are.
On 27 May 2021, the Kamloops Band was well aware that no excavation had taken place, and that a media release stating that human remains had been found would mislead the world. It was thus incumbent on the Kamloops Band to call in the BC Coroner and the Kamloops RCMP (which has a detachment on the Kamloops Reserve only a few yards from the former residential school) to do an immediate preliminary excavation to determine the nature of the soil disturbances.
Unfortunately, that did not happen.
According to Chief Rosanne Casimir, the Kamloops Band did meet with an RCMP officer from the detachment on the Reserve prior to 28 May 2021. It seems the officer visited the site where the GPR work had been done, and must have observed that no excavation had taken place and that no human remains had actually been found, a fact that would have been obvious to anyone visiting the site.2
After receiving a phone call early on the morning of 3 June 2021, Murray Sinclair addressed a meeting of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs later that day, and accused the RCMP of ‘intimidating people’ and of scaring Dr Beaulieu:
I understand that in British Columbia…. I got a call early this morning, in fact, saying that the RCMP have now declared that a major investigation is going to occur into the bodies that have been located in Kamloops, and they are now beginning to question those who have made this story available. Unfortunately, in the typical, heavy-handed and ham-handed police way, they are simply intimidating people, rather than helping them. We need to have a discussion with the police about how they’re handling it, because they should not be pursuing those who are revealing the information. They should, in fact, be looking at and looking for those records. They should be looking at what we know as opposed to trying to pursue witnesses.
The young lady who did the research on the ground-penetrating radar, for example, is quite scared of the approach that the RCMP have taken with her, and I don’t blame her. My advice to her—and others—has been to make sure she has legal counsel available to her so that she is not mistreated going forward.
The next day, 4 June 2021, the RCMP announced that the Kamloops Band was now in charge of the investigation. This was confirmed on 15 July 2021, when the Globe and Mail reported Chief Casimir as saying that the RCMP ‘have agreed to await further instruction from the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc’. No further investigation by the RCMP has taken place since 4 June 2021, and the Kamloops Band has never retracted the false claim in its 27 May 2021 media release that ‘the remains of 215 children’ had been found.
Who authorized the GPR work and how was it paid for?
How did all this get started?
No information was forthcoming as to who had authorized the GPR work until Ted Gottfriedson, Manager of the Kamloops Band’s Language and Culture Department, and Diena Jules, Administrator of the Kamloops Band’s museum, were interviewed on a Fifth Estate program aired by the CBC on 13 January 2022.4 Ted Gottfriedson said he and Diena Jules made the decision to do the GPR work, and to pay for it using a 2019 grant which had been awarded for the upgrading of the Kamloops Band’s Heritage Park adjacent to the museum.5 According to Gottfriedson, he and Diena Jules met, and she said, ‘We should look for the kids’. Diena Jules told the Fifth Estate’s Gillian Findlay that she wanted the GPR work done for her ‘own comfort’. No mention is made in the Fifth Estate program of anyone else being involved in the decision.
Who hired Dr Sarah Beaulieu to do the GPR work?
At a media event in Kamloops on 15 July 2021, Dr Sarah Beaulieu gave the first and only public presentation of her GPR findings. In reply to a question from Kim Mackrael of the Wall Street Journal as to ‘how you became involved in the first place’, Dr Beaulieu stated that she had been recommended for the GPR work by Dr Eldon Yellowhorn of Simon Fraser University. Dr Yellowhorn has been asked to confirm this, but has not done so.
Who hired Dr Beaulieu, and on whose recommendation, thus remains unclear. Moreover her detailed written report, reviewed by ‘a designated review team of five archaeologists very experienced in GPR’,6 has never been revealed. Chief Casimir initially assured the media and general public that Dr Beaulieu’s full written report would be released in June, but on 15 July 2021, the same day Dr Beaulieu gave her first and only oral presentation, that promise was revoked by the Kamloops Band’s media consultant, Racelle Kooy, as reported by the Globe and Mail:
Racelle Kooy, a spokesperson for the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, said a full copy of Dr. Beaulieu’s report would not be released to the public and media, but that “the core of the findings are contained in the release and Dr. Beaulieu gave an extensive presentation today.”
The CBC’s Fifth Estate program raised the possibility that Dr Beaulieu was involved in the spring of 2021 in a commercial project across the Yellowhead Highway from the former residential school on a site on which the Kamloops Band proposed to build a new grocery store. Throughout the Fifth Estate program aerial footage of the future grocery store site is shown, as well as footage of Dr Beaulieu and two unidentified women in hard hats using a GPR machine on the graded site there. It may be that Dr Beaulieu was working at that site prior to the May long weekend in 2021, and it was thus a simple matter for Ted Gottfriedson and Diena Jules to arrange for her to do GPR work in the apple orchard area in the Kamloops Band’s Heritage Park on the May long weekend.
In any event, Dr Beaulieu did do GPR work in the apple orchard area in the Heritage Park on the May 21st to 24th long weekend, and according to the Fifth Estate’s Gillian Findlay, ‘Ted and Diena were among the very few who knew the work was happening’. This seems plausible as Canada was in the midst of Covid 19 lockdowns, and the Heritage Park was closed. Ted Gottfriedson said he was not present in the apple orchard while the GPR work was being done. Thus, Diena Jules may have been the only person who was present besides Dr Beaulieu:
Gillian Findlay: But Diena made a point of going to the orchard to watch the survey and to comfort the children she believes can hear her.
Diena Jules: I said, Don’t be afraid. They are just here looking for you. They are going to be confirming what our oral history has told us, what I’ve always known. You know, it’s going to be OK. We’re here to find you, finally.
Who decided on the next steps after Dr Beaulieu provided the GPR results?
An interview given by Diena Jules’ brother, former Chief Manny Jules, sheds light on events immediately after Dr Beaulieu provided her GPR results to the Kamloops Band. The interviewer, Stephen Dorsey, mentioned that he had seen Manny Jules on the Fifth Estate program, and asked him to describe the impact the news had on him at the time.
It is significant that Manny Jules did not say that he was initially told that ‘the remains of 215 children’ had been found. He stated that his sister, Jeanette Jules, told him that ‘215 possible unmarked graves’ had been found, a very significant distinction:
Uh, I got a phone call uh from my sister [Jeanette Jules] who was on Council. I was having what we called ‘cowboy coffee’. So because of covid we were having coffee outside around a campfire. And I, my sister said, ‘The Chief and Council want to meet with you and the other former Chiefs’. And I said, ‘Well, jeez I’m having cowboy coffee. I’d sooner do this than attend a meeting’. And she said, ‘No, it’s really important that you come here’. And I said, ‘Well, what’s the reason?’ And she said, ‘It’s been confirmed. We’ve got uh 215 possible unmarked graves’. And I knew immediately that this was really important so I dropped what I was doing and went over, met with the Chief and Council.
Who was present at the Kamloops Band Council meeting attended by Manny Jules, and what was decided in terms of next steps, is unknown.7 In particular, it is not known how ‘215 possible unmarked graves’ became ‘the remains of 215 children’ in the media release issued by the Kamloops Band a few days later.
What is known is that James Peters of CFJC Today in Kamloops picked up the phone a day or so later and was told he would be given a ‘scoop’ in which he would have a brief window to put the story out before it would be given to the rest of the media.8 Peters put out a tweet at 4:01 PM on 27 May 2021 linking to a news story he had posted two minutes earlier which was time-stamped May 27, 2021 | 3:59 PM. The news story was headlined ‘Tk’emlups confirms bodies of 215 children buried at former Kamloops Indian Residential School site’, and the text referred to the discovery as human remains:
TK’EMLUPS TE SECWEPEMC — The chief of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc calls the discovery “unthinkable”.
The band confirmed Thursday (May 27) it has found the remains of 215 children buried on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Chief Rosanne Casimir says the presence of the remains was “a knowing” in the Tk’emlups community, but was confirmed this past weekend with the help of a ground-penetrating radar specialist. The Tk’emlups Heritage Park is now closed to the public as work continues, with the potential crews may find more remains.
The wording of Peters’ news story conveys the impression that he had interviewed Chief Casimir, but that does not appear to have been the case.
A few hours later a version of the story by an unidentified writer appeared in The Canadian Press with the headline: ‘Remains of 215 children found at former residential school in British Columbia’. The Canadian Press story was quickly reprinted by the Winnipeg Free Press and other outlets, and the false claim that human remains had been found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School flashed around the world. Most news stories followed the wording ‘remains of 215 children’ in the media release put out by the Kamloops Band on 27 May 2021 in which Racelle Kooy was listed as the media contact, although a few media outlets erroneously claimed that a ‘mass grave’ had been found.
Neither the media release put out by the Kamloops Band nor any of the countless news stories which followed in succeeding days provided any information as to who had authorized the GPR work, or who had done it. Although Ted Gottfriedson was not specifically named, the media release did state that the GPR work had been undertaken by the Kamloops Band’s Language and Culture Department, and although Diena Jules was not named, she may be referred to obliquely in the phrase ‘ceremonial Knowledge Keepers’ since (as noted above) she appears to have been the only other person present when the GPR work was done.
In addition to the false claim that human remains had been found, the media release contained another highly misleading statement:
In undertaking this current investigation, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief and Council would like to acknowledge the preliminary work that was carried out in the early 2000’s.
In fact, no preliminary work had ever been carried out on the Kamloops Reserve – in the early 2000s or at any time – which involved a search for burials of residential school students. The work which was carried out on the Kamloops Reserve in the late 1990s and early 2000s was part of Simon Fraser University’s Indigenous Archaeology Program under Dr George Nicholas. On his web page, Dr Nicholas clearly states the program’s purposes:
From 1991–2005, I developed and directed SFU’s Indigenous Archaeology Program on the Kamloops Indian Reserve. This community-based archaeology program was directed to (a) pre-5000 BP archaeological landscape, (b) investigating patterns of long-term land use; (c) the history of plant resource utilization in the Interior Plateau; and (d) Secwepemc heritage management needs.
The innocuous-sounding ‘acknowledgement’ of ‘preliminary work’ in the Kamloops Band’s 27 May 2021 media release thus carries the preposterous implication that in the early 2000s Dr Nicholas and Simon Fraser University were setting the stage for Dr Beaulieu’s GPR search for the burials of residential school children, when in fact Dr Nicholas was carrying out archaeological work focussed on (1) the pre-5000 BP archaeological landscape, (2) patterns of long-term land use, and (3) the history of plant resource utilization.9
Why would the Kamloops Band make such a clearly misleading claim in its media release? The answer appears to be that the Kamloops Band realized at the outset that it had to mention the previous well known archaeological work done by Dr Nicholas because, embarrassingly, Dr Beaulieu had only learned of that work after the fact, and 15 of the soil disturbances Dr Beaulieu had originally claimed were burials turned out to be shovel test pits and other excavations done earlier by Dr Nicholas. Because of this embarrassing circumstance, Dr Beaulieu was forced to revise her original claim of 215 burials to 200 burials when she presented her findings on July 15th, as discussed below, and the Kamloops Band was forced to mention Dr Nicholas’ previous archaeological work in its media release, albeit in the form of the preposterous claim that Dr Nicholas’ archaeological excavations were merely preliminary work done in anticipation of a more thorough and comprehensive search for the burials of residential school students.10
Limited media access to information
The highly-anticipated public presentation of the GPR results was repeatedly delayed, and what was essentially a news blackout in terms of access to new information and identification of the person who had done the GPR work continued until mid-July. Only two media events are known to have occurred between the 27 May 2021 media release and Dr Beaulieu’s presentation on 15 July 2021.
On 28 May 2021, at a hastily-organized online event on CPAC moderated by Racelle Kooy, Chief Rosanne Casimir answered questions from a small number of journalists, none of whom were from major media outlets.11
On 4 June 2021, Chief Casimir gave a Zoom press conference which was scheduled to be livestreamed by APTN News, but which Racelle Kooy unexpectedly forbade journalists to livestream:
There was also a question asked about if you could livestream this event out. Please, no. When we want to livestream we’re going to control the when and where of livestream. We understand you’re going to be recording this or aspects of this for your whatever, your radio or TV or whatever, with um Kukpi Rosanne, but we’re not, you’re, we’re not giving anyone permission to live stream this at this time.
Journalists participating in the online conference were also warned by Racelle Kooy not to ask probing questions:
This is the very beginning, so again, you’re going to want to delve into places that we’re not ready to talk about for a multitude of reasons. We are a First Nations community. We are part of the Secwepemc Nation, which means we have ceremonies and protocols to do yet. So you have to understand that there’s things that we’re not going to disclose until we’ve had the chance to connect within our own community who is reeling because unfortunately how the story was we knew that we had to push it out the same time to the general public as to our own community here, and so they’re still reeling, and they still have the presence of those children in their community, so we just want you to be very aware with what we’re dealing with here.
Resolutions involving Kamloops at Assembly of First Nations General Meeting
While demanding that journalists not ‘delve into’ the story, the Kamloops Band was moving forward aggressively in attempting to involve the International Criminal Court in what both Chief Rosanne Casimir and Chief RoseAnne Archibald termed a ‘crime scene’. The Assembly of First Nations held its General Meeting from July 6-8, co-chaired by the Kamloops Band’s media consultant, Racelle Kooy, at which it passed two emergency resolutions, both moved by Chief Rosanne Casimir. The first resolution termed the Kamloops discovery a ‘mass grave’ and linked it to genocide. The second called for intervention by the International Criminal Court.
The resolution asking for the involvement of the International Criminal Court and the concomitant exclusion of the RCMP from the investigation were specifically referred to by Chief Archibald at the 15 July 2021 media event a week later in Kamloops:
These are crime scenes, and so we, we need some kind of independent investigation. We know that, for example, the RCMP are a part of children being taken from their families and communities, and so we need some kind of independent investigator on this process, and we need also international examination uh into these crimes. We did have a recent resolution passed at the AFN AGA on the International Criminal Court being involved in this process, and so there are a number of moving parts that we still have to figure out. An investigation must occur, absolutely, and the federal government, their role is to make sure that records are provided, that they work with First Nation communities on the ground. As Chief Casimir just said, this has to be a community-driven process, and so we would look to the federal government certainly to provide the resources that we need to conduct thorough investigations.
Dr Beaulieu’s evidence
A week after the AFN General Meeting, the world finally learned during a two and a half hour media event at Kamloops on 15 July 2021 that the person who had done the GPR work was Dr Sarah Beaulieu. Dr Beaulieu is routinely described as an expert, and a ground penetrating radar specialist. However although her web page on the University of the Fraser Valley website implies that she was trained in GPR work in 2016 at Canadian Forces Base Borden, the University has refused to provide proof of her certification.12
When Dr Beaulieu presented the evidence for her GPR work she revealed that there had been two startling developments.
Firstly, without specifically taking the Kamloops Band to task for its false and unretracted claim that human remains had been found, a claim which had horrified the entire world, Dr Beaulieu reframed her GPR results as ‘possible burials’ and ‘targets of interest’ which could not be confirmed without excavation:
With ground-penetrating radar, we can never say definitely they are human remains until you excavate, which is why we need to pull back a little bit and say they are probable burials, they are targets of interest,” Beaulieu said. “They have multiple signatures that present as burials, but because of that, we have to say they are probable until one excavates.
Secondly, as mentioned above, having belatedly learned of Dr Nicholas’ archaeological work in the same apple orchard area, Dr Beaulieu revised the number of her GPR results down to 200:
From my preliminary findings in May to today’s results, reports providing additional information related to disturbances from archaeological impact assessments as well as construction in parts of this area were subsequently provided to me. These reports were reviewed in order to determine which of these locations overlapped with the GPR survey areas. After this review it was determined that there remain 200 targets of interest in these preliminary results.
A reporter from Kamloops asked about the revision, and whether it was the result of excavation:
I was just hoping to clarify, has any site been excavated yet, and is the 215 number still accurate?
Dr Beaulieu replied with the startling admission that she had not known about the earlier excavations by SFU’s Dr Nicholas, and that in fact what she had mistaken for 15 of the alleged burials she had ‘discovered’ were, in fact, 15 soil disturbances caused by the archaeological work done by Dr Nicholas in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and that she had only learned about that earlier archaeological work when she received Dr Nicholas’ reports after she had done her GPR work on the May long weekend:
As far as excavation for these burials, nothing has been excavated yet. The number is 200. So once the survey was completed um I received, subsequent to the, the survey, archaeological reports that, that um discussed impact assessments and excavation that had been done in the, in the same area, and so had to rule out where those excavations had taken place in the early, late 90s, early 2000s, and see if they um you know impacted where I had done my survey, which is why I concluded with 200.
The fact that the Kamloops Band had not told Dr Beaulieu about Dr Nicholas’ earlier archaeological work in the very area she was about to survey, and that 15 of the alleged ‘remains of children’ the Kamloops Band claimed she had discovered turned out to be shovel test pits and other earlier excavations done by Dr Nicholas should have been world-wide news. If 15 of the alleged burials had to be eliminated since they were nothing more than earlier archaeological work done by Dr Nicholas, how reliable were the remaining 200 alleged burials? Obviously the remaining 200 burials were no more reliable than the 15 which had had to be eliminated. However instead of pointing that out, the media reported the revision from 215 down to 200 as though it were an everyday occurrence that 15 soil disturbances claimed to be the ‘remains of children’ had turned out to be nothing more than shovel test pits and the like.
The other ‘evidence’ provided by Dr Beaulieu during her presentation on 15 July 2021 in support of her GPR work was equally unreliable.
(1) juvenile tooth
Dr Beaulieu stated as proof that she had found ‘probable burials’ the fact that in the 1990s a juvenile tooth had been ‘excavated from a shovel test pit during an impact assessment conducted by Simon Fraser University’s Archaeology Department’. Not long after Dr Beaulieu made this claim, in reply to a question about the alleged ‘juvenile tooth’, the Chairman of the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University stated that the tooth had in fact been tested – apparently years ago – and was not human.13 Why both the Kamloops Band, in its 15 July 2021 media release, and Dr Beaulieu, in her oral presentation on the same date, claimed that it was human remains a mystery.
(2) juvenile rib bone
Dr Beaulieu also stated, as proof that she had found ‘probable burials’, the fact that a juvenile rib bone had ‘surfaced’ in the same area and had been brought in to the museum by a tourist in the early 2000s. It seems clear from Dr Beaulieu’s description that the word ‘surfaced’ was misleading, since she provided no evidence that the bone had ever been under the ground. The bone has never been tested,14 and will likely never be tested since its present whereabouts are unknown. It seems almost certain it was the bone of an animal such as a coyote.
(3) oral histories of Knowledge Keepers
Dr Beaulieu stated that she relied on the ‘oral histories’ of Knowledge Keepers who recalled children as young as six years old being woken in the night to dig holes for burials in the apple orchard. However according to the Fifth Estate program, Ted Gottfriedson and Diena Jules were the only persons involved in the GPR work, and they made no mention in the Fifth Estate program of six-year-olds digging graves. If there were any Knowledge Keepers involved apart from Ted Gottfriedson and Diena Jules, they should be identified so that they can tell their stories themselves rather than through Dr Beaulieu.
(4) thousands of children missing from residential schools
Dr Beaulieu stated that because thousands of children are alleged to be missing from residential schools according to the National Council for Truth and Reconciliation’s Memorial Register, it follows that 200 of them must be buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
In fact private researchers have located provincial death records for some 600 of the children on the NCTR Memorial Register who are said to be missing. These death records establish that most of the children who died while enrolled at residential schools did not die at the schools. They died in local hospitals under the care of physicians or in accidents on their home reserves. Their death certificates, some of which are signed by their parents, state that they are buried in their own home reserve cemeteries. Moreover the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not record any instances of a parent searching at the relevant time for a missing child. The Kamloops Band, in particular, has confirmed that it has never been searching for a missing child from its own Band.
On examination, Dr Beaulieu’s ‘evidence’ for ‘probable burials’ is thus found to be completely unreliable.
What did Dr Beaulieu really find using GPR?
The question thus arises: What did Dr Beaulieu’s GPR machine really find beneath the ground in the apple orchard area of the Kamloops Band’s Heritage Park?
The majority of soil disturbances which registered on Dr Beaulieu’s GPR machine are at a depth of .7 and .8 metres, which Dr Beaulieu herself admits is very shallow compared to the 1.8 metre depth of a typical grave. Dr Beaulieu tried to explain this problem away by claiming that the graves were shallow because of the difficulty of digging through frozen ground, and because the gravediggers were six-year-olds. These are not plausible explanations, and it seems obvious that the soil disturbances Dr Beaulieu located using GPR were not burials.
What, then, did she find?
A website recently set up by a private researcher indicates that the soil disturbances found by Dr Beaulieu in her GPR work primarily consisted of the 2000 lineal feet of trenches filled with clay tiles which comprised the east bed of a septic field installed in 1924 to dispose of the Kamloops Indian Residential School’s sewage:
With construction of a new school building in the mid-to-late 1920s, came installation of a sewage disposal plant. The plant consisted of a septic tank and two underground disposal beds. The east bed was 0.35 acres in size and distributed waste water through 2,000 lineal feet of land tile buried 3.5 feet below grade (Tredcroft 1926). Following the site contours, the east bed extended under much of what would become the upper garden and orchard.
By 1928, after nearly 40 years of cultivation and irrigation, the school garden had become deeply furrowed in contrast to surrounding farmland. Countless irrigation ditches were dug and filled in, their locations lost to time.
By 1935, the original septic tank and sewage disposal beds were chronically clogged. As a temporary solution, the beds were by-passed and raw sewage was dumped, via open ditch, into a low-lying marshy area south of the school garden. This created very unsanitary conditions as large amounts of effluent collected, breeding flies and causing stench (Warren 1937).
A more permanent sewage solution was found in 1938-39 with the installation of a larger septic tank and by-pass pipe that sent waste water to the garden and orchard for irrigation. Septic sludge was diverted via pipe and flume to a 40 x 60 x 3 feet deep sludge drying basin located in the northwest corner of the orchard (Webb 1938 & 1939). It appears that this method of sewage disposal remained in operation for the next two decades.
Between 1930 and 1948, an apple orchard of at least 77 trees was planted over much of the school garden. The garden and orchard were also expanded northward up a slight incline and overtop part of the old 1920s septic field.
By 1954, much of the site was in a state of decline. While the upper orchard and a garden plot to the southeast remained in use, most of the lower orchard was derelict scrub land, nearly void of trees.
By 1957, sewage waste water had been flowing to the orchard and garden for nearly twenty years. It was time for a safer and higher capacity solution to waste management.
From 1957 to 1958, more than 30% (100,000 square feet) of the orchard was excavated for a sewage lagoon – a pond for the settlement and breakdown of septic waste. A large sewer main was trenched through the orchard from the northwest, bi-passing the 1920s and 30s sewage systems (Ulrich 1958).15
It seems clear that Dr Beaulieu failed to do the necessary archival research before conducting her GPR work, and that in particular that she was unaware of the 1926 report by E.H. Tredcroft and the 1937 report by W.C. Warren concerning the sewage disposal systems at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
She was thus unaware of the 2000 feet of septic field trenches filled with clay tiles which are still under the apple orchard and the Heritage Park, as well as the many other soil disturbances which had occurred in the area over more than a century of agriculture and development. As a result, she completely misinterpreted her GPR results.
It’s difficult to draw conclusions from the very small number of slides Dr Beaulieu presented on 15 July 2021, but clearly they could represent GPR profiles of septic field trenches. To a GPR machine, a grave filled in after burial would likely be indistinguishable from a septic field trench at that same depth that had been dug, lined with clay tiles, and filled in. Moreover Dr Beaulieu stressed that the ‘probably burials’ she had found were oriented east-west, and the diagram of the east bed of the 1924 septic field establishes that it ran east-west.
Dr Beaulieu’s written report, which has been withheld from the media and the general public, would establish whether she knew about the 1924 septic field trenches. If her written report reveals she did know about them, them it is incumbent on her to explain why she did not mention their existence at the 15 July 2021 media event. If she did not know about them, then it seems almost certain that what she found was merely the old septic field trenches.
Excavation and exhumation
Ted Gottfriedson and former Chief Manny Jules told the Fifth Estate that there had been a unanimous decision by all the heads of families of the Kamloops Band to exhume and repatriate:
Ted Gottfriedson: For our people it’s really bad to exhume anyone. You know, their final resting place is actually sacred ground in every sense of the word. They must be left alone. We do have elders who do want those children to stay there, without a doubt, but our committee has discussed it and they have said that they should be exhumed.
Manny Jules: I went around the table asking all of the family heads what they felt should happen and every one, every one of the representatives said those little ones uh should be sent home because that’s what we would want.
Gillian Findlay: Former Tk’emlups Chief Manny Jules heads the committee that made the decision to exhume.
Manny Jules: Our number one job is to make sure that they have a safe return home with all of the, the honour and respect that they didn’t receive in life that they’re given in their afterlife.
Gillian Findlay: But identifying remains takes DNA analysis. Determining how someone died requires even more work.
Ted Gottfriedson and Manny Jules made these statement well over a year ago.16 There has still been no excavation. Why not? Because the Kamloops Band is playing with words. Exhumation is never an issue until the existence of human remains beneath the ground has been definitively confirmed by excavation. Dr Beaulieu made the point repeatedly at the 15 July 2021 media event that excavation is the only way to confirm that there actually are human remains present in the apple orchard:
With ground penetrating radar we can never say definitively that they are human remains until you excavate, which is why we need to pull back a little bit and say that they are probable burials, they are targets of interest for sure. They, they have signatures, multiple signatures that present like burials, um but because of that we do need to say that they are probable until one excavates.
The Kamloops Band does not want to excavate, which is a prerequisite to exhumation. The Kamloops Band wants to distract from excavation by calling in experts to discuss the lengthy, expensive and inconclusive exhumation process, complete with DNA testing of hundreds of people from communities which sent children to the Kamloops Indian Residential many decades ago, a discussion which is completely irrelevant unless and until excavation confirms that there actually are human remains in the apple orchard.
Thus the essential question remains unresolved. Are there human remains in the apple orchard in the Kamloops Band’s Heritage Park? Or did Dr Sarah Beaulieu’s GPR work merely confirm the existence of a century-old sewage disposal field?
Only excavation can reveal the truth.
1 According to Dr Beaulieu, the GPR machine used in Kamloops ‘was provided by the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund to help complete important work such as this’.
2 The site has been permanently closed since the May 2021 long weekend.
3 Although the RCMP knew Dr Beaulieu’s identity, the public was not told who had done the GPR work until 15 July 2021.
4 The Fifth Estate program appears to have been filmed in the fall of 2021.
5 There is disagreement as to whether the grant was awarded by the province of British Columbia or the federal government. In the media release of 27 May 2021 it is said to have been a provincial grant (‘Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir stated, “We are thankful for the Pathway to Healing grant we received to undertake this important work.”’). However at the 3 June 2021 meeting of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Deputy Minister stated that it was a federal grant (‘I’m pleased to be able to report that it was in fact a federal grant. It came from Canadian Heritage. It was part of the celebration and commemoration fund. It was approximately $40,000. The grant is available online. You can find the details of it there.’) Whatever the source of the grant, it does not appear it was awarded for the purpose of undertaking GPR work.
6 Email 27 July 2021 from Dr Hugo Cardoso, Chairman of the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University: ‘The report was also thoroughly reviewed by a designated review team of five archaeologists very experienced in GPR, and all agreed that it was methodologically sound.’ Simon Fraser University has refused to provide the names of the five archaeologists.
7 It appears the Kamloops Band decided to hire Racelle Kooy as a media consultant at this meeting as her name appeared as the media contact on the 27 May 2021 media release. The decision to hire Don Worme to represent the Band may also have been made at this time. In any event, Don Worme represented the Band at the 15 July 2021 media event, and it appears he may have been the lawyer who contacted the Simon Fraser Archaeology Department in late July 2021 stating that they were not to talk about unmarked graves in Kamloops. Email from Dr George Nicholas 28 July 2021: ‘I have been strongly advised by the TteS legal team not to respond to any queries from the public regarding the search for unmarked graves in Kamloops. Their request extends to Dr. Cardoso and other members of our department.’
8 Telephone communication with James Peters 25 September 2021.
9 It should be noted that Diena Jules’ brother, John Jules, obtained an archaeology degree from Simon Fraser University, and that he was involved with Dr Nicholas’ work in 2002 (see below).
10 See Nicholas, George P., Archaeological Research Reports 7, Archaeology Department, Secwepemc Culutral Education Society-Simon Fraser UniversityProgram, Secwepemc Education Institute, Kamloops, 2002, p. 12: During preliminary STP testing, what were thought to be human remains were recovered from the unit. These included several teeth and bone fragments. Mr. John Jules (Kamloops Indian Band) was contacted, and he requested that additional testing be conducted to determine the nature of the finds. . . .The suspected human remains were later examined by Dr. Catherine Carlson (University College of the Cariboo), who concluded that one small tooth was likely human, but the rest were not.’ As noted, the tooth was later tested and found to be non-human as well.
11 The journalists permitted to ask questions at the CPAC media conference on 28 May 2021 were Marcella Bernardo, Colton Davies, Nicholas Wells, Omar Mosleh, Julio Cesar Rivas, Kyle Muzyka, and Levi Landry.
12 The University of the Fraser Valley states: ‘We have confirmed directly with the accrediting organization, Sensors and Software, that Dr. Sarah Beaulieu participated in a ground penetrating radar training program provided by Sensors and Software in 2016. The program included training on-site at Canadian Forces Base Borden. The program was not administered by the Government of Canada’. Email 1 November 2022.
13 Email 27 July 2021 from Dr Hugo Cardoso, Chairman of the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University.
14 Email 27 July 2021 from Dr Hugo Cardoso, Chairman of the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University.
15 See https://gravesintheorchard.wordpress.com/
16 As noted above, the Fifth Estate program appears to have been filmed in the fall of 2021, although it did not air until January 2022.