Thursday, June 19, 2008

Possible Graves of Residential School Victims are Being Destroyed: Your Help is Needed

1. South-facing view of Charles Camsell Hospital (closed in 1996)

2. Possible site of the grave(s). Survivors of residential schools in Western Canada reported seeing and learning about unmarked graves in this area, near a staff garden.

Edmonton Residential School Grave Site Threatened with Destruction

Edmonton, June 19, 2008: A mass grave site on the grounds of the former Charles Camsell Hospital is threatened with destruction by the architectural firm Dub Architects Ltd., which has begun excavations and new construction on the site of the graves.

According to a list made public by The Friends of the Disappeared (FRD) on April 10, a mass grave containing the remains of children who died in this hospital and in its partner institution, the United Church's Edmonton Indian Residential School, is located immediately adjacent to the site of the former hospital. This site is now under excavation by Dub Architects, who apparently were sold the land by the Alberta provincial government sometime after the release of the mass graves list and its reporting in the Edmonton Sun in mid April.

This is urgent! Please rally opposition to this desecration of the remains of innocent children, and of crucial evidence for a genuine human rights inquiry into residential school crimes.Contact Dub Architects and demand that they cease all further excavation at the Camsell Hospital site until the remains of the children buried there can be salvaged and returned to their homes. Send a similar protest to Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach with copies to the media (below).

For more background information see:


The Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared (National), pager: 1-888-265-1007

Dub Architects Ltd 10315 109 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 1N3, (780) 428-7888

Contact Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach at: Office of the Premier, Room 307, Legislature Building10800 - 97th Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427 2251
Fax: (780) 427 1349

Edmonton Journal 10006 -101 Street Edmonton, ABT5J 0S1 (780) 429-5100 Main Switchboard (780) 429-5200 Newsroom John J. McDonald III - Publisher, (780) 429-5129,

Allan Mayer - Editor in Chief, (780) 429-5201,

Edmonton Sun:
News tips:(780) 468-0281 or
Newsroom Fax:(780) 468-0139
Letters to the Editor: - Fax to (780) 468-0139.- Email to
DAVID BLACK, Publisher and CEO
GORD SCHWINGHAMER, Advertising Director
GRAHAM DALZIEL, Editor-in-Chief
DONNA HARKER, Managing Editor

Charles Camsell Hospital was originally a Jesuit boys' college, established in 1913. Between 1942 and its closure in 1996, it passed through incarnations as a U.S. Army hospital, a tuberculosis hospital/ research center for Inuit and First Nations patients (many of them forcibly removed from their communities and loaded onto "hospital ships"), and an adjunct facility to Edmonton's residential school located on the hospital grounds (this facility burned down in 2000).

In 1928 the Alberta Legislature passed the Sexual Sterilization Act, allowing any residential school inmate to be involuntarily sterilized under authority of the principal (after 1929, school principals were the legal guardians of all students). It remained in effect until 1973, and at least 8500 women and children were sterilized under this law. In 1933 B.C. passed an identical law. The three major sterilization centres became R.W. Large Hospital in Bella Bella (B.C.), the Nanaimo Indian Hospital, and Charles Camsell Hospital.

As documented in Kevin Annett's book Hidden from History (2nd ed., 2005), Cold War medical experiments were allegedly conducted on students of the Edmonton residential school. Survivors have described being exposed to X-rays for more than 5-10 minutes at a time, several times a week. Haida elder Doug Wilson, a student during the late '50s, says he was on "burial detail", helping to dispose of bodies of Native children on the hospital grounds before being subjected to electric shocks that interfered with his memory. Survivor Sylvester Greene has described how he and other students were enlisted to bury a fellow student, an Inuit boy, in 1953. He says they were ordered by principal Jim Lunford to keep the burial a secret. To date, these reports have not been officially investigated.

Asked about these allegations at a June 23rd town hall meeting, MP Laurie Hawn dismissed them simply as "Internet conspiracy theories".



Captain Karen said...

Why haven't I heard of this? I don't remember seeing anything about this on any of the local channels here in Edmonton... Thanks for bringing it to my attention SME.

SME said...

The media hasn't touched these allegations; there was a brief mention on CBC 1 years ago, and a few short articles on a website called Stage Left (which have since been pulled), and that's about it. The Charles Camsell graves are just one of dozens of reported mass/unmarked graves of Native schoolchildren that have been reported by eyewitnesses and survivors. To my knowledge, not one of these sites has been excavated. We pay more attention to ancient burial sites than we do to reports of modern ones. I wish more than anyone that these reports are incorrect, but how can we ever know unless they're properly investigated?