BREAKING: Graves in the Apple Orchard
Contextualizing and questioning the claims
Dear subscribers and other readers,
The following breaking news piece, anonymously written by the author with the pseudonym “Kam Res” — a play on the term Kamloops Indian Residential School — who is a Canadian professional architect. Kam has expertise in aerial imagery, photographs, and archival information which he skillfully applied to the Kamloops “burial” site.
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He wishes to remain anonymous fearing retribution for initially posting his findings on his WordPress site. Let us not forget the reprehensible treatment of Professor Frances Widdowson, removed from her tenured position at Mount Royal University for creating a so-called hostile work environment for, among other failings, not capitalizing the word “indigenous.”
I have communicated with the author via his pseudonym and he has given me permission to re-post this piece. In doing so, I accept it as fundamentally accurate. This is partly because he has just added supporting reference material (which interested readers are invited to consult on his blog) and partly because it is consistent with other information I have received over the past 12 months.
This information suggests that there were likely centuries of soil-disturbing construction and other activities — including intensive archaeological excavation in recent years — in the alleged secret cemetery close to the former Kamloops Indian Residential School (IRS).
None of this activity since the school opened for operation in 1890 has revealed any dead bodies.
This breaking story needs to be carefully compared to the following May 27, 2021 shocking press release from the Kamloops Indian Band heard around the world:
It is with a heavy heart that Tk’emlúps te Secwé pemc Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir confirms an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School. This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings came to light – the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School…. “We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” stated Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir. “Some were as young as three years old. We sought out a way to confirm that knowing out of deepest respect and love for those lost children and their families, understanding that Tk’emlúps te Secwé pemc is the final resting place of these children…. At this time we have more questions than answers. We look forward to providing updates as they become available.”
A year later, there are even more questions than answers, as many pieces in this newsletter have shown.
How can a fallible technology like ground penetrating radar prove the existence of buried bodies?
Were the murders of children claimed by Annett and others ever reported to the police? If so, what was the result?
What is the content of the Indigenous “knowing” in the community, who held this “knowing,” and what is its credibility?
What are the names of the dead children or even a single child?
Which parents or other relatives are searching for missing Kamloops IRS children?
What is the proof that these deaths were undocumented?
How can ground penetrating radar determine the exact age of children?
What are the questions that are now being asked about this “discovery”?
Why has the Kamloops band (and many others like it) been pushing these inconclusive GPR “discoveries” as hard as they can? Could there be financial and other gains in doing so?
Why haven’t any substantial updates been presented since May 27, 2021?
Most important of all, why have no excavations been undertaken to determine whether any human remains are contained in what are presumed to be unmarked graves, some even believed to contain murdered children?
Alas, the Kamloops band has done nothing to address any of these and other questions.
The following piece (with two bold embedded comments of my own about its middens — garbage dumps), albeit based on circumstantial evidence, suggests why: there are no Kamloops IRS children buried in this abandoned apple orchard. Not one.
“Oral histories recall children as young as six years old woken in the night to dig holes for burials in the apple orchard.”– Dr. Sarah Beaulieu
Kamloops Indian Residential School, 1937
The following is a brief history of the apple orchard where Dr. Beaulieu’s 2021 GPR survey identified 200 “probable burials”. Using historical photographs and archival documents, several phases in the orchard’s past are illustrated and discussed. This work is intended to contextualize Dr. Beaulieu’s findings and to provide a reasoned basis for questioning her claims.
The apple orchard is located about 500 feet southeast of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. It sits near a prehistoric housepit village, atop an extensive shell midden and ancient refuse pits [HR: perhaps going back centuries]. The area is considered archaeologically significant and has been the subject of assessments, test holes and excavations from 1983 to 2004.
Much of how the site appears today is due to 130 years of intense agricultural activity and infrastructure projects.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Kamloops Residential School produced much of its own food in surrounding fields and orchards. Vegetables and other crops were grown in the school garden – 7 acres of fenced land along the South Thompson River.
In 1917 it was necessary to install extensive new irrigation works to ensure the viability of crops. Students were made to dig irrigation ditches and, where the ground was not favourable, wooden flumes and stave pipes were installed.
Over almost 40 years of cultivation, the school garden became deeply furrowed in contrast to surrounding farmland. This could also indicate the presence of north to south irrigation ditches.
By 1948, an apple orchard of at least 77 trees had been planted over much of the school garden. The garden, and eventually the orchard, was expanded northward, up a slight incline toward the school.
Former students recall horrifying rumours of a graveyard in the apple orchard during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
… “there was rumours of a graveyard but nobody seemed to know where it was – we didn’t even know if it was true. And there was a big orchard there and we used to make up stories about the graveyard being in the orchard.”– Emma Baker, attended KIRS from grade 9 to 12 (approx. 1950 to 1955)
… “Dig a hole, somebody’s missing, dig a hole, somebody’s missing…”– Chief Michael LeBourdais recounting a story told by his uncle, a KIRS student in the 1950s
Based on media reports, most stories about a graveyard relate to the 1950s. By this time, much of the lower apple orchard was derelict and void of trees. This scrub land, flat and less frequented than the remaining orchard, seems the most logical place to conceal graves.
In 1958, after at least a decade of alleged burials, more than 30% (100,000 square feet) of the former apple orchard was excavated for a sewage retention pond. A large sewer main was also trenched through the orchard from the northwest. No graves were discovered.
Still, former students recall rumours of a graveyard throughout the 1960s.
“We’re going to go steal apples, and then one night, one of the guys says no, we shouldn’t. That’s where they’re burying people.” – Chief Harvey McLeod, attended KIRS from 1966 to 1968
The apple orchard and school garden were abandoned by the late 1960s and early 1970s. With few trees remaining, the area would have been highly exposed to the nearby school building.
By 1998, the former apple orchard had become part of the Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park. Archaeologists from Simon Fraser University were on hand to monitor construction of park facilities, including a concession, washrooms, and various underground utilities. A back-hoe trench 4 feet wide x 5 feet deep and 260 feet long was dug through the orchard for a water line. At least one ancient pit feature, containing animal bones, shells and other artifacts was located about 2 feet below grade (Nicholas 1999). No graves were discovered.
In 2002, the Simon Fraser University Archaeology Field School undertook a significant excavation in the orchard. 15 shovel test pits were dug, followed by an excavation of about 20 feet wide x 50 feet long and 6 feet deep. An additional area of approximately 7 feet square by 5 feet deep was excavated to the southwest. Amongst other features, a very large shell midden [HR: where Indigenous people often buried their dead] was found throughout the dig area (Nicholas 2004). No graves were discovered.
Macabre stories of a juvenile tooth found in the apple orchard originate from this 2002 dig. A possible human tooth was indeed discovered amongst assorted animal remains in the southwest excavation (Nicholas 2004). However, the SFU archaeology department has since stated that the tooth was not human (Widdowson 2022).
Again in 2004, the Simon Fraser University Archaeology Field School conducted a dig in the orchard. Seven pits, 7 feet square and up to 10 feet deep were dug near the 2002 excavation. No graves were discovered.
From 2005 to 2021, relatively little changed in the orchard. Aerial images reveal assorted park furniture and historical reconstructions coming and going, but no significant alterations to the land.
Since the alleged burials began in the late 1940s, more than 30% of the orchard has been excavated. Archaeologists have been active on the site since the 1980s, conducting excavations and monitoring construction work. Deep trenches have been cut straight across the orchard and a sewage pond was excavated from the entire southwestern quadrant. No graves have ever been discovered.
When Dr. Beaulieu used GPR to scan the orchard in May of 2021, she was scanning a site heavily disturbed by centuries of human activity. Nevertheless, Beaulieu confidently claimed that 215 “probable burials” had been discovered.
In July of 2021, Dr. Beaulieu admitted that 15 “probable burials” were actually “archaeological impact assessments, as well as construction.” Evidently, well documented site work was not accounted for in her initial survey.
Several of the remaining 200 “probable burials” overlap with a utilities trench dug in 1998, as can be seen in drone photography captured after the GPR survey. Still other “probable burials” follow the rout of old roads or correlate suggestively with the pattern of previous planting and furrows. “Probable burials” located in the lower orchard conveniently avoid the septic pond, suggesting they were made after – numbering 59, that would require more than 5 burials per year from 1958 to 1969 when classes ceased at the school and the land was reverted back the Kamloops Band.
As of July 2022, Dr. Beaulieu has not released a detailed report of her findings and no “probable burials” have been confirmed through excavation.
“200 anomalies remain as targets of interest. These targets of interest are “probable burials” as they demonstrate multiple GPR characteristics of burials. Only forensic investigation (excavation) will be able to conclusively determine this.”– Dr. Sarah Beaulieu
Given that the apple orchard is deeply textured by centuries human activity, how can it be said that Dr. Beaulieu’s targets are more “probably” graves than probably other features of human activity?
With more than 30% of the orchard already excavated and no graves discovered, is it probable that a staggering 200 burials are scattered throughout the remaining area?
“GPR is not necessary to know that children went missing in the Indian residential school contexts. The fact – the knowing – has been recognized by Indigenous communities for generations. Remote sensing, such as GPR, merely provides some spacial specificity to this truth.” – Dr. Sarah Beaulieu
Reports & Articles
Nicholas, G.P. 1999 Archaeological Investigations at Eerb–77: A Deep Floodplain Site on the South Thompson River, Kamloops BC. Archaeological Research Reports 3. Department of Archaeology, Secwepemc Cultural Education Society-Simon Fraser University Program, Kamloops, BC.
Nicholas, G.P. 2004a Archaeological Investigations at Eerb–77: Summary of The 2002 Field Season. Archaeological Research Reports 7. Department of Archaeology, Secwepemc Cultural Education Society-Simon Fraser University Program, Kamloops, BC.
Nicholas, G.P. 2004b SFU-SCES Kamloops Archaeology Field School. Biennial Report 2003/2004. Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.
Widdowson, F. “Billy Remembers”. The American Conservative. 2022. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/billy-remembers/
2004 Kamloops IRS School Narrative (point form). Government of Canada.
1890s School Photographs: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives.
1917 & 1918 Site Survey & Irrigation As-Built Drawing: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives.
1918 Irrigation Photographs: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives.
1928, 1948, 1974, 1999 and 2004 Aerial Images: Kamloops Through the Years. https://kamloops.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=1b003d8208e844188a3939e895b86489
1954 Aerial Image: National Air Photo Library. Natural Resources Canada.
1966 Aerial Image: Digital Air Photos of BC. Government of British Columbia.
Image Showing Targets of Interest #1: The Globe and Mail. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-bodies-found-at-kamloops-residential-school-site-in-bc/
Image Showing Targets of Interest #2: The Fifth Estate.
Image Showing Targets of Interest #3: The Canadian Mass Grave Hoax.
Chief Harvey McLeod: CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/newsinteractives/features/down-in-the-apple-orchard
Chief Michael LeBourdais: The Fifth Estate.
Dr. Sarah Beaulieu: APTN News.
Emma Baker: CTV News.
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