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Canadian residential schools: Trudeau in Kamloops, BC | CTV News – CTV News Vancouver

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Warning: This article contains disturbing details. Reader discretion is advised.

It’s been a year since the announcement of the detection of unmarked graves at the site of what was once Canada’s largest residential school – an announcement that for many Indigenous survivors was confirmation of what they already knew.

A daylong memorial brought dozens to Kamloops, B.C., Monday to mark the anniversary as work continues at the site, and to honour the children who never made it home.

A sunrise ceremony was held on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc powwow grounds, not far from the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

It began with an opening prayer, and included an emotional speech from Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir.

“What scientific investigation confirmed were the truths about our survivors and what they’ve always known,” she said.

“Too many children did not make it home.”

The day to honour children who were taken from their homes and never made it back includes cultural performances, dances, drumming and speeches, and will close with an evening prayer, which will be attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau will be meeting with the community and will take part in a closed meeting with Casimir and members of her council, before participating in closing ceremonies scheduled to begin at around 7 p.m.

It’s been a year since members of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of what it believes are the remains of up to 215 people buried at an unmarked area on the school grounds.

A file was open by the Tk’emlúps Rural RCMP last spring, and the case remains under investigation.

Casimir said it’s been a year of pain for some, describing the announcement made one year ago as “like a wound being reopened,” but that it’s also an opportunity for healing.

She said science will support the next steps, but that the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation is taking time, knowing the impact the investigation has on the community.

Casimir also noted the impact the discovery had on those outside the community, encouraging non-Indigenous people to want to learn more about Canada’s hidden history.

“The unmarked graves brought truth to the world, and the world stood with us in solidarity and unity,” she said.

Gov.-Gen. Mary Simon was at the sunrise ceremony, and said, simply, “You knew. You’ve known for so long.”

Addressing survivors and their relatives, she said that the investigation has been called a discovery, but it’s confirmation.

“You knew what happened here, the atrocities, the deaths, the loss. And the silence … And now everyone knows. It shouldn’t have taken this long, but finally, people know.”

Drummers play and sing during a ceremony to mark the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the detection of the remains of children at an unmarked burial site at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 23, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

(Ben Miljure / CTV News Vancouver)

DETAILS ON THE SEARCH

The search area was in part determined by the discoveries of a child’s rib bone and a youth’s tooth, and is the site of what was once an apple orchard, when the school was in operation.

Sarah Beaulieu, a professor at the University of the Fraser Valley and member of the search team, described what she found as “targets of interest” when outlining the technical side of the investigation last July.

While the only way to confirm what is in the graves is exhumation, according to experts behind the detection, the discovery matched stories from survivors of the school, some of whom described being woken up in the middle of the night to dig graves in the orchard.

Some of those children were as young as six.

Currently, the focus of the ongoing investigation in the Kamloops area is not excavation and forensic analysis but the search through ground-penetrating radar of the rest of the site, as only a small area of the grounds were examined in the initial study.

(Ben Miljure / CTV News Vancouver)

SURVIVORS’ STORIES

One of the people who attended the school as a child is Clayton Peters, who told The Canadian Press it was “the most horrible pain in the world to be a native, to be an Indian back then.”

He and his brothers attended the Kamloops school in the late 1960s, into the 1970s, and said he remembers thinking that the kids who suddenly disappeared were the lucky ones. 

“I’d always thought that they ran away like I did, that they made it, that they were free,” he said, crying. Now he thinks some of those children’s remains may be among those hidden under the orchard.

Before he was kicked out at the age of 17, Peters said, he was regularly beaten and molested. Children who spoke their own language were made to eat soap, he said, and they were also forced to scrub their bodies with lye to “take the brown off them.”

When children fell ill, he said, they were put in a dark room rather than given treatment. The room was also used as punishment.

“I was sad all my life. When I left that school, I fought everybody. I fought every white man that bumped into me. I was so angry,” he said.

Another survivor is Ron Ignace, who told CTV News last year he’d been beaten for speaking his mother tongue, but that he refused to abandon the Secwepemctsin language entirely.

“I thought in Secwepemctsin and spoke in English, knowing full well that they could not beat me for what I thought,” he said in an interview on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

He ran away during a leave on his 16th birthday, and said he’s living proof that the school system failed its goal, described by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a campaign of cultural genocide.

And what happened back then had a lasting impact.

“This is a heavy truth. It has been referred to as a historic dark chapter but Indigenous people are very much alive with the repercussions that they’re living today,” Kukpi7 Casimir said back in July.

It’s important to remember that the Kamloops school is only one of 139 in the system.

Cutouts of orange T-shirts are hung on a fence outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, in Kamloops, B.C., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

DISCOVERIES ACROSS CANADA

Many spoke about deaths and disappearances of children who attended the school, and other residential schools in Canada.

The Kamloops discovery marked a year of further investigations at school grounds across the country, and calls for truth, acknowledgment and apologies from both the Canadian government and the Catholic Church, which operated many institutions in the residential school system.

The Pope issued an apology earlier this year, and is planning a trip to Canada in the summer that will involve visits to First Nations communities, though none in British Columbia

Casimir included in her opening remarks a thank you to members of the church, including a local bishop who’s committed to working with Indigenous peoples towards reconciliation.

“We know that many of our people still practice Catholicism. We all need to have faith, we all need to have hope, we all pray to the one creator, the one god.”

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Ben Miljure in Kamloops, B.C., and The Canadian Press

People are silhouetted as they walk past the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after gathering to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to be buried near the facility, in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. The year since the the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced that ground-penetrating radar had located the suspected grave sites in a former apple orchard has been one of national reckoning about residential schools in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

If you are a former residential school student in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, or the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll free line at 1-800-721-0066.

Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here.

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Public inquiry in Nova Scotia seeking explanation from Ottawa about withheld notes

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HALIFAX — The inquiry investigating the Nova Scotia mass shooting wants to know why the federal Justice Department withheld notes written by a senior Mountie for several months — and if there’s more revelations to come.

“The commission sought an explanation … about why four pages were missing from the original disclosure,” Barbara McLean, the inquiry’s director of investigations, said in an email Friday.

“The commission is also demanding an explanation for any further material that has been held back.”

On Tuesday, the inquiry released internal RCMP documents that include notes taken by Supt. Darren Campbell during a meeting with senior officers and staff on April 28, 2020 — nine days after a gunman killed 22 people in northern and central Nova Scotia.

At the meeting, the head of the RCMP, Commissioner Brenda Lucki, said she was disappointed that details about the firearms used by the killer had not been released at previous news conferences in Halifax, according to Campbell’s notes.

Campbell alleges that Lucki said she had promised the Prime Minister’s Office that the Mounties would release the descriptions, adding that the information would be “tied to pending gun control legislation that would make officers and public safer.”

The superintendent’s notes sparked controversy in Ottawa earlier this week, when the opposition Tories  and New Democrats accused the governing Liberals of interfering in a police investigation for political gain — assertions denied by the government and Lucki.

Meanwhile, the commission of inquiry confirmed Friday that the Justice Department sent 132 pages of Campbell’s notes in February 2022, but they did not include his entries about the April meeting.

The missing notes were submitted to commission on May 31.

McLean says the commission is seeking assurance that nothing else has been held back, and she complained about RCMP documents that had already been disclosed.

“These documents have often been provided in a disjointed manner that has required extensive commission team review,” McLean wrote in her email. “Our team continues to review all disclosure carefully for any gaps or additional information required to fulfil our mandate.”

Michael Scott, a lawyer whose firm represents 14 of the victims’ families, said he’s concerned about the document delay.

“Any time documents are either vetted, redacted or withheld in a way that’s not entirely appropriate, it entirely undermines the process as a whole,” he said in an interview Friday.

Scott said that on top of having to read thousands of pages of records, transcripts and notes submitted to the inquiry, “now we have to be concerned we’re not getting all the documents.”

The Conservatives released a statement Friday, alleging a federal coverup.

“Canadians will find it hard to believe that the (justice) minister’s department just happened to miss those four critical pages of evidence,” the statement said. “This is no coincidence. This was no accident.”

Kent Roach, a University of Toronto law professor, said delays in receiving information from the RCMP means the inquiry is left to grapple with important issues late in its mandate. The inquiry’s final report is due Nov. 1 and all submissions are expected by September.

“It’s unfortunate because public inquiries need the full documentary record as quickly as possible so they can make decisions on what to look at and what to not look at,” said Roach, author of “Canadian Policing: Why and How It Must Change.”

“If the mass casualty commission had known about this earlier, it might have decided to conduct its hearings and research in a different way,” he said Friday.

The professor said the comments from Campbell raise questions about the structure of the RCMP, and its competing mandates of being both a local and nation police force whose commissioner serves “at the pleasure” of the minister of public safety.

“My concern is that the citizens (of Nova Scotia) seem to be on the sidelines while there is tension and squabbling between RCMP Nova Scotia and RCMP Ottawa,” he said.

The Canadian Press requested comment from the RCMP, but a response was not immediately available.

Campbell said in an email that he would not comment. He said he is waiting to be interviewed by the commission.

“My interview has been scheduled and it will take place in the very near future,” he wrote.

“I also expect to be called to the Mass Casualty Commission as a witness sometime near the end of July and I look forward to both opportunities.  As such, it would be inappropriate for me to make any public comments prior to giving evidence under oath.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

Lyndsay Armstrong and Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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Protesters descend on U.S. Supreme Court to decry decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

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WASHINGTON — Hundreds of Americans — many enraged, others elated — gathered on Capitol Hill to vent their feelings Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made it possible for women to obtain legal abortions in the United States.

Out in front of the high court’s towering marble facade, ringfenced for weeks by an imposing two-metre barricade, the two sides remained largely peaceful, save for the occasional shouting match, under the watchful eyes of dozens of Capitol Police officers.

Some sat to the side, weeping openly or staring at the ground. Others shouted slogans and brandished hand-lettered, profanity-laced placards, many vowing to “aid and abet” a medical procedure that’s all but guaranteed to become illegal in fully half the country.

“I can’t believe that I’m alive in this country where we’ve made some progress, and this is a huge step back,” said Libby Malditz, whose two-word placard bore a simple — and unprintable — message to the five Supreme Court justices who supported the decision.

Malditz, who closed her two D.C.-area retail shops so that employees could attend the protests, said she’s wary about what comes next in a country already wracked with division and social tension.

“Violence isn’t going to help, but we also saw through the civil rights movement that sometimes violence needs to happen for change to happen,” she said.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that, I won’t be part of that, but you know, it’s that bad in our country right now. People need to rise up. If you don’t have freedom, you have nothing.”

Three of the five justices who voted in favour of the decision — Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett — were appointed by former president Donald Trump, who promptly issued a statement taking full credit for the decision.

He called it “the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation,” one that came “because I delivered everything as promised.”

The court voted 6-3 to uphold the Mississippi abortion ban at the core of the original case, but Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a concurring opinion against overturning Roe — “repudiating a constitutional right” the court has already recognized and reaffirmed.

Roberts also did not sign the scorching dissent penned by the court’s diminished liberal wing: justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.

“With sorrow — for this court, but more for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent,” they wrote.

Within hours of the decision, foreshadowed back in May when an early draft of the ruling found its way past the veil of secrecy that normally shrouds the court’s deliberations, state governments were already moving to enact abortion bans, some of which had been on the books for years.

Thirteen states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, the Dakotas and Idaho, have trigger laws that will take effect within the next 30 days, if not immediately.

Five others — Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Georgia and South Carolina — are sure to challenge court decisions that blocked or struck down their abortion bans. Indiana and West Virginia are also widely expected to impose strict new laws.

In the trigger state of Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt said officials would promptly enforce a 2019 ban on abortions except in cases of medical emergency. In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey vowed to ask a judge to lift an injunction on her state’s near-total ban.

Jamie Manson, president of the group Catholics for Choice, said she’s hoping Friday’s decision serves as a jarring wake-up call for anyone in the U.S. who hasn’t been paying close attention to what’s been happening.

“It takes us to a place that I hope is the tipping point for people in the United States who I think did not believe this day would come,” said Manson, who described the “Christian nationalist agenda” that she said is taking over the country.

“We were lulled into complacency. I think we were raised to believe that rights would always be expanded, not restricted.”

Polls have consistently indicated that fewer than one-third of Americans support striking down Roe v. Wade, which has served as both a bedrock precedent for the courts and a lodestar for reproductive rights champions for the last 49 years.

That has Democrats, who face a reckoning in the midterm elections in November, priming the pumps for abortion to be a major motivator in getting their supporters out to the polls this fall.

“This is not over,” President Joe Biden vowed Friday as he urged Congress to step up and codify in federal law the principles that Roe v. Wade had preserved.

He said the Supreme Court is clearly embarking on an “extreme and dangerous path” that could soon jeopardize other high court precedents that are not expressly preserved in the U.S. Constitution, such as the right to same-sex marriage and birth control.

“The court has done what it has never done before: expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that had already been recognized,” Biden said.

The decision will have “real and immediate consequences” for the health of women, he added, and leave them exposed to criminal sanction simply for doing what’s necessary to protect their well-being.

“It’s — it just stuns me.”

Vice-President Kamala Harris, speaking in Illinois, noted that women in the U.S. now have less access to reproductive health care than their mothers and grandmothers had for the better part of half a century.

“Right now, as of this minute, we can only talk about what Roe v. Wade protected — past tense,” Harris said. “Millions of women in America will go to bed tonight without access to the health care and reproductive care that they had this morning.”

That is sure to have many of them looking to abortion-friendly states like California, which is already bracing for an influx of patients, said Rep. Sara Jacobs, a Democrat who represents the state’s 53rd district, which includes parts of San Diego.

In the meantime, it’s vital for Congress to do away with the legislative filibuster so it can codify protections for abortion into law, Jacobs said in an interview in the midst of Friday’s protest.

“While we do that, we need to work with the states so that they have the support they need,” she said. “States like California, which I represent, are going to have an influx of people from other states who are coming to be able to access the reproductive health care that they deserve.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2022.

 

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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Hillier calls on Ottawa to provide aid to Ukraine, laments waning interest in war

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OTTAWA — Retired general Rick Hillier is lamenting what he sees as waning Canadian interest in the war in Ukraine as public and political attention turns increasingly toward the rising rate of inflation and other issues closer to home.

But the former Canadian defence chief who served as the face of this country’s military mission in Afghanistan for years warns that even more economic hardship is in store if Canada and its allies don’t step up their support for Ukraine and stop Russia.

That includes the rapid provision of hundreds of millions of dollars in Canadian military aid that the federal Liberal government promised in April, only a fraction of which has been delivered.

“Just imagine what would occur if Russia breaks through and takes Ukraine, changes the oil and gas flow dramatically, changes the flow of wheat into Africa, to the Black Sea ports,” he said in an interview.

“The implication will be double, triple or quadruple what we see right now. … It’s right to do more as a nation and we can afford to do more. But secondly, do it because the economic implications down the road of not doing it are brutal for us also.”

Hillier was speaking in his role as the new head of an advisory council comprised of retired military commanders organized by the Ukrainian World Congress, an advocacy group for the Ukrainian diaspora.

The UWC has been running a campaign called Unite With Ukraine that seeks to raise funds to buy non-lethal military equipment for the country’s Territorial Defence Force, which is comprised of volunteers — including foreigners — fighting Russia’s invasion.

Canada has been a staunch supporter of the Ukrainian military since Russian forces first attacked in late February, with the Liberal government promising $500 million in military aid in April’s federal budget.

The government says it has since provided more than $150 million worth of assistance, including millions in artillery shells, drones and satellite imagery. Those are in addition to the provision of four artillery guns and several armoured vehicles.

Defence Minister Anita Anand earlier this week held up the purchase of drone cameras for the Ukrainian military as one of several recent successes when it comes to military procurement, saying the government “turned around a contract within days.”

But Hillier says there needs to be a greater sense of urgency as Russia, after its early battlefield blunders, has started to deploy more of its military capabilities in ways that the Ukrainians are finding difficult to counter.

“They’ve committed half-a-billion dollars and I’d like to see that money spent in very effective ways, with things delivered to the Ukrainian defence forces literally right now, and not go through a procurement process,” he said.

“Let’s get them what they need right now.”

Hillier repeated some of his past calls for Canada to send some of the hundreds of light-armoured vehicles that form the backbone of the Canadian Army’s mechanized power, as well as dozens of tanks.

At the same time, he worried that the war in Ukraine is falling down the priority list for Canadians as they face more pressure on their pocketbooks due to rising fuel and food costs as well as mortgage rates.

“I watched a variety of national news shows over the last days and several weeks and Ukraine is barely mentioned, let alone what’s occurring there,” he said. “And people are worried about their ability to put food on their table, and their jobs and house.”

Hillier’s comments came as the Russian military extended its grip on territory in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, and the Ukrainian military announced the arrival of powerful U.S. multiple-launch rocket systems it hopes will offer a battlefield advantage.

The U.S. plans to send another US$450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including some additional medium-range rocket systems, ammunition and other supplies, U.S. officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to provide details ahead of an announcement.

Analysts said the advanced systems, which Canada does not operate, would give Ukrainian forces greater precision in hitting Russian targets.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2022.

⁠ — With files from The Associated Press.

 

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

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