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Canada’s Anti-Catholic Blood Libel

In the supposed mass graves of residential schools, no bodies have been found.

The Indian Residential School hockey team of Maliotenam, Quebec, circa 1950. (Wikimedia Commons)

So much for Canada’s mass graves. Two years ago, ground-penetrating radar supposedly discovered mass burial sites near several so-called residential schools for indigenous children funded by the Canadian government and operated by churches (often Catholic ones) from the late 19th century to the late 20th century. The “discovery” prompted a good old-fashioned racial reckoning. You know, the kind necessitating arson and wanton destruction.

In response to the radar findings, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the apparent mass murder (of kids!). Dozens of Canadian churches, including many that served indigenous communities, were burned to the ground by enraged activists—acts Trudeau described as “understandable,” given the enormity of the racist crimes. The executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Union, Harsha Walia, brayed for more, tweeting, “Burn it all down!”


Now, two years later, we learn that “a series of recent excavations at suspected sites has turned up no human remains,” as the New York Post reported over the weekend. The Pine Creek First Nation dug up fourteen sites near a residential school in Manitoba over the summer, and turned up zilch. As Spiked noted, this latest excavation is only the latest among several similar digs at former residential-school sites, including the Mohawk School in Brantford, the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia, the Charles Camsell Hospital in Edmonton, and the Kuper Island Residential School in British Columbia. All have turned up exactly zero human remains.

Other sites almost certainly hold bodies, but these aren’t mass graves of murdered children. Remember the prime minister’s photo-op that showed him holding a teddy bear near a residential school in Cowessess First Nation? The local chief has made clear that that site merely contained unmarked graves, as less-than-sturdy grave markers at the local Catholic cemetery gradually deteriorated under weather. 

There is no denying that some indigenous children were mistreated in residential schools. But the mass murders and mass burials used to justify attacking churches in general and the Canadian Catholic Church in particular were quite literally a piece of agitprop mythology.

Yet amid the mass-graves fever, many Canadian journalists and scholars, including men and women of the left, found themselves ostracized or even out of a job for daring to question the mythology. The Mount Royal University in Calgary, for example, fired the progressive political scientist Frances Widdowson for promoting anti-indigenous views (her real “crime” was questioning the NGO-advocacy industrial complex that, in her view, hinders real development for the community by ginning up fake grievances). The few reporters who did real digging came under severe fire, as Terry Glavin documented for Canada’s National Post.

Why did this madness take such deep roots in Canada? Writing for Compact, the progressive  anthropologist Kathleen Lowrey has argued that harping on nonexistent or massively exaggerated historical crimes allows Canada’s liberal ruling class to legitimate an economic status quo that has left working- and middle-class Canadians poorer and more miserable than any time since the postwar era. If vast swaths of Canadian society can be written off as the sons and daughters of historical mass murderers, then extraction and austerity—and the crushing of those who opposed extra-draconian Covid policies—could be justified.


As Lowrey wrote:

The real lesson being delivered is that most Canadians have had it far too good for far too long, and deserve much less than they have got right now. Employment? Bah. The right to squeak about loss of employment? Humbug. A voice in public policy making? Pshaw. The right to protest or even to have a bank account? Um, honk-honk?

But I think another explanation for the mass-graves hysteria is naked anti-Catholic bigotry. Against a Canadian medical system that increasingly encourages ailing and disabled people to avail themselves of suicide-by-doctor, sometimes in a less-than-voluntary way, there stands one institution, the Roman church. But what if that institution itself were guilty of mass murdering and mass-burying children? Then its credibility in the public square would be shot, that’s what.

Call this what it is: an anti-Catholic blood libel.