The Mass Graves at Brantford: An Update from the ITCCS Indigenous Elders Advisory Council and Kevin Annett
ITCCS International Communique, 5 June 2012
The first successful uncovering of apparent mass graves at a former Indian residential school in Canada began in October, 2011 at the “Mush Hole” Mohawk Institute: the former Church of England (Anglican) facility in Brantford, Ontario.
After being formally authorized by Mohawk elders to begin the inquiry, two teams associated with the ITCCS successfully surveyed the grounds of the Mush Hole with Ground Penetrating Radar. This survey revealed massive soil dislocation in areas where eyewitnesses describe seeing burials of children who died in the Mush Hole.
Based on this discovery, the ITCCS teams sunk two small test digs which revealed positive evidence of burials. These included remains of clothing and buttons positively identified as coming from school uniforms, as well as bone samples which turned out to be primarily animal mixed with probable human remains of small children.
The very success of this dig, and its kindling of similar independent excavations at two other former residential schools during 2012, has sparked a counter-attack by the government of Canada and the Anglican Church which has caused the Brantford inquiry to be put on temporary hold.
This counter-attack has followed the usual pattern of divide and conquer tactics utilizing the already factionalized atmosphere in the Six Nations community in Brantford.
Early in 2012 after the test digs had uncovered the first bone samples, a government-funded operative named Jan Longboat recruited and paid one of the tribal members who had authorized the ITCCS inquiry, Frank Miller, to begin criticizing the inquiry and calling for the expulsion of ITCCS field worker Kevin Annett from the Mohawk community.
Miller successfully factionalized the original group of authorizing Mohawks by stoking fear and spreading state-sponsored smears about Kevin Annett in the community, despite Kevin having been adopted into the Mohawk Nation and given a name.
Nevertheless, to solidify the ITCCS inquiry, in late March, 2012, a new group of ten Mohawk elders and Mush Hole survivors issued a new statement authorizing Kevin Annett and ITCCS to proceed with the Mush Hole inquiry and excavation.
To counter further disruptions and rally native supporters, ITCCS has also established a seven-member Indigenous Elders Advisory Council with representatives from the Cree, Anishnabe, Haudenosaunee, Squamish, Mohawk, Wyandotte, and Maliseet Nations.
The Mush Hole inquiry will be proceeding under the authority of the ten authorizing Mohawk elders, along with a new international team of archaeological and forensic specialists who will seek to recover and identify the remains of children who died at the Mush Hole, for analysis and traditional re-burial.
This inquiry is now joined by similar independent excavations on Cree and Squamish territory, authorized by survivors at the site of residential schools in Ontario and British Columbia.
Obviously, this initiative is a direct challenge to the present state and church-funded whitewash known as Canada’s “truth and reconciliation commission”, which has no mandate to lay criminal charges or search for the remains or cause of death of the 50,000 and more children who died in these schools.
We can therefore expect further efforts by Canada and its guilty churches to disrupt and discredit the independent search for the missing children at the Mush Hole, and elsewhere. And so we urge all people of conscience and all survivors of Canada’s genocide to rally behind our efforts, and to launch similar digs in their own communities.