The Kamloops “discovery” of 2021 created a major sensation in Canada and abroad. Based on the preliminary assessment and before any remains were found or any credible report made, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately referred to “a dark and shameful chapter” in Canadian history. British Columbia Premier John Horgan said he was “horrified and heartbroken” to learn of a burial site with 215 children that highlights the violence and consequences of the residential school system. Several other Aboriginal communities and media outlets then followed up with references to unmarked graves. On May 30, the federal government lowered the flags on all its buildings to half-staff. Later, it instituted a new holiday to honour “missing” children and survivors of residential schools. Spontaneously, clusters of shoes and orange shirts and other paraphernalia were placed on church steps in many cities or on the steps of legislatures in memory of the little victims. Around the country, churches were burned or vandalized. Statues were spray-painted and pulled down in apparent retaliation for the fate of the children. The statue of Queen Victoria in front of the Manitoba Legislature was defaced and pulled down.
Even China was horrified by these horrifying abuses in horrifying ways of the horrifyingly abused indigenous children. Of course, nobody actually found any mass graves. It’s all speculation. But mass graves fit the narrative, and that makes them more than real in fact, reality is completely unimportant.
That the story of the mass graves was abjectly ludicrous was clear from the start. But bemoaning imaginary human rights violations of the past is useful to distract from the currently existing ones. In Canada, you will now have to present a vaccine passport and a photo ID to enter Costco. But that’s a lot less interesting than fantasizing about dead indigenous children from the 19th century.