Hidden History of Residential Schools

The former Kamloops Residential School operated by the Catholic Church where hundreds of unmarked graves of children were found

“For, behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”

Isaiah 26:21

Graves of children that lay hidden were discovered last year on the property of Catholic residential schools in Canada. Since the discovery, a thousand more unmarked graves have been found in Canada and in the United States. This scandal is nothing new for the Catholic Church. Mass graves have been uncovered at Catholic institutions in Ireland including an orphanage, and the Magdalene Laundries. The spotlight is now turned to the Residential Schools run by the Catholic Church in Canada and the United States.

Papal Apology

Pope Francis went to Edmonton, Quebec in July 2022 to make a Papal apology, for the atrocities committed by the Catholic Church. For most survivors, his apology did nothing to atone the Roman Catholic Church for the abuse they experienced in the residential schools. In Canada alone, it is estimated that 150,000 children were taken away from their families and forced into the school system. Survivors from Canada and the United States all recount years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by nuns and priests who ran the schools.

“I thought there was no God, only torture and hatred.”

Rosalie Whirlwind Soldier, a survivor of St. Francis, a catholic run residential school in the United States. During a recent Truth and Reconciliation meeting, she testified of the abuse she endured as a child at the hands of nuns and priests. She was put into the school system at the age of 4.
Children praying to statue of St. Therese de l’Enfant Jésus – teaching Catholic dogma and idolatry rather than the Word of God

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no Light in them.”

Isaiah 8:20

A Thousand Unmarked Graves

Many of the children did not live to tell their stories. The remains of 215 Indigenous Canadian children (some as young as 3 years old) were found lying in unmarked graves behind the Catholic run Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. The discovery sparked an investigation into the Residential School System across Canada and in the United States. Using ground-penetrating radar technology (CNN), 750 more unmarked graves were found at the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Canada. A cemetery at the Chemawa residential school in Oregon contains 257 students and 30 other non-students. Parents were rarely told their children had died.

Abuse by Catholic Clergy

In his papal apology, the Pope acknowledged that “children suffered physical, verbal, psychological and spiritual abuse.” He specifically left out sexual abuse. According to testimonies from survivors, sexual abuse by priests and nuns was rampant in the schools.

Two thirds of the residential schools in Canada, were run by the Catholic religious group known as the Oblates. The Residential schools Kamloops and Marieval, where a total of 965 unmarked graves have been confirmed, were run by Catholic Oblate priests. The Oblates is a Catholic Religious Order that is still in operation today.

“The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate serve poor and needy people in the United States and 70 countries around the world.”


Two priests were assigned to run each boarding school, assisted by a dozen nuns. Testimonies of sexual abuse are mounting against the priests and nuns who ran the schools. Thousands of children were victimized in the Catholic boarding school that ran from the early 1800s to the late 1900’s.

Catholic Church Siphoned Native Treaty and Trust Funds

Thumbprints of parents forced to hand over their children and trust funds to the Catholic Church

The residential school system operated from about 1860 until the last one closed in 1970. During that time, the Catholic Church siphoned millions of dollars from Native American Treaty and Trust Funds for “tuition”. Parents were forced to sign over their children and their trust funds. By the 1970s, Catholic boarding schools closed because the Native Trust Funds had been siphoned to depletion.

No Statute of Limitation on Genocide

Under international law, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide have no statute of limitations. The “Doctrine of Discovery” was a papal bull issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493. It instigated genocidal extermination of all non-catholics residing throughout the world. The Indigenous people of Canada and the United States were brutally massacred for centuries because of this edict. There remained only a fragment of the indigenous peoples that once inhabited North America.

By the 1800’s, assimilation through education was conspired to deal with the “Indian Problem”. The residential school system was set up in the early 1800s following the Civilization Fund Act of 1819. In direct agreement with the Doctrine of Discovery, the Residential School system served its role to “instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents in the Catholic faith and train them in good morals.”

Civilization Fund Act

The Civilization Fund Act was passed by the United States Congress on March 3, 1819. The Act authorized an annuity (annual federal funding) for the education and “civilizing” of Native Americans. The Civilization Fund was used to established hundreds of residential boarding schools throughout the United States. Boarding schools were built and established throughout North America to begin the “civilization process” of Indigenous children. Canada passed the Indian Act in 1876 which legislated all Indigenous people were to become Wards of the Federal Government.

Stolen Children

Government policy authorized policeman to take Indigenous children away from their families and put them into these schools. Hundreds of thousands of children were forced into the Residential School System. The children were not allowed contact with relatives, not even their parents.

Sioux camp in front of US school in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, 1891, where their children were being held captive
via North American Indian Photograph Collection

“If we can imagine some of the students being as young as 2 years old, being away from your family, learning to be assimilated into the White culture was very devastating for many young people,”

CBS News (First published on July 10, 2021)

Kill the Indian, Save the Man

Native American Boarding Schools began operating in 1860 when the Bureau of Indian Affairs established the first on-reservation boarding school on the Yakima Indian Reservation in Washington. The first off-reservation residential school was established in 1879, founded by Richard Henry Pratt. The school was designed to emulate Fort Marion Prison for captured Native Americans. By 1880, Canada established residential schools based on the format seen in the US. Pratt’s motto was “kill the Indian, save the man” which ushered in a century of cultural genocide committed against the Indigenous people of North America.

Trying to Escape

Many children tried to escape the schools. In Canada, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) were called to retrieve run away children. In the United States, the local police arrested Native American children and took them to their assigned boarding schools. Several accounts mention policemen were accompanied by a priest.

“I didn’t want to let them know I was crying, so I cried inside, really crying, weeping because I didn’t want to go back. I went back and it started over again, all over again.”

– Henry Boubard, speaking of the sexual abuse by the priest at Fort Alexander in Manitoba, Canada.

Hiding the Evidence

As more unmarked graves are uncovered, they will show only a fraction of the deaths that occurred at Catholic Residential Schools.

“I have never seen a chief cry. I wouldn’t believe him if he didn’t tell me how priests in Canada would rape children. And nuns would hide the pregnancy […] These nuns who believed in god, in the name of god, threw these children into the furnace. They were born and then they were burned down,”

Freddie Lane (Indian name: Sul Ka Dub, of the indigenous group known as Lhag’temish, inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest), speaking of a conversation he had with a 75 year old tribal chief who had gone to a residential school in Canada. The Dark History of Residential Schools in The United States by Thomas F. Carn

In some cases, Native American women were sterilized in boarding schools. To date the extent of the abuse is difficult to quantify.

Discern between the Righteous and the Wicked

400 years ago, when the Mayflower made shore at Plymouth Rock, the Puritans were saved by the Native Americans who taught them. They taught them through kindness by sharing their harvest and showing them what to eat, how to gather, forage, and store food; how to survive the cold winters. By these actions, the Indigenous people showed love and respect for their fellow man. Native American traditions also show a deep connection to the Creator. The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love your fellow man as yourself.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

In contrast, the Roman Catholic Church has no regard for God, or their neighbor. Survivors of the residential school system are witnesses to the evils committed by the Catholic Church. The nuns and priests showed no mercy toward the children in their care. What a different place America would be, if the Roman Catholic Church had not claimed it for its own.

“Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves him not.”

Malachi 3:18

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