Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 28, 2021

The Shingwauk Files: Search Begins for Documents of Residential School Death Camps

The Shingwauk residential school dining hall circa 1890. (Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association/The Shingwauk Project)


The Shingwauk Files: Search Begins for Documents of Residential School 
Death Camps 

Across Canada, Native children were stolen from their families by the churches and government Indian Agents. Parents who hid their children were sentenced to jail. Native children died of starvation, disease, abuse, torture, medical experiments, and murder by church staff in these residential schools. Now, there is documentation of unmarked graves and mass graves that document the genocide. There are new demands for trials of those responsible like the Nuremberg trials.

Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Residential school survivors and their families in Canada are now identifying those responsible for the abuse, torture and murder of Native children in residential schools, in order to hold them responsible for genocide.

Mohawk Nation News said, "Each unmarked grave is a separate crime scene and criminal investigation. We know who did the crime. We want to know the specifics of the individuals involved, just like the Nuremberg trials."

Among the files now being examined are those of Shingwauk Residential School, an Anglican Church-run school in Sault Ste. Marie, in Ontario near the border of Canada and the United States. There are 110 children and staff buried in the cemetery. The students who died here, whose names are known, are shown below in memory.

Although many documents were destroyed by the churches, the Library and Archives of Canada has preserved some documents from Shingwauk.

The document above shows that an arrest warrant was issued, and a bounty hunter hired, to return a boy who had run away and refused to return. Other documents show that teenage girls were abducted from school for immoral purposes.

The deplorable conditions at the school in the early 1900s are described in the documents: The lack of coal, the abominable smell from the toilets, and the windows closed in summer because of the lack of screens.

Shingwauk Residential School established in 1874

The 2,291 documents in the Canadian Archives, however, are focused primarily on the need for funds, and do not reveal the abuse that was carried out at Shinwauk.

Survivors Tell their Stories

Susie Jones, 78, of Walpole Island, was one of the children stolen from her family. She was less than five years old.

Jones was Susie Kicknosway when she was taken from her home a few months before she turned five in 1941. She and her two brothers were sent to the Shingwauk Indian Residential School. Over the years, her parents would become strangers. She would be there until she was 16 in 1953, writes Jane Sims, in Chatham Daily News. 

Jones described the outward and inward scars -- the routine use of the strap, the cuffs to the head -- the sadness, the abandonment.

She described how the children would be punished together because they wouldn’t tell on each other. Stripped of their language and identity, they became numb.

"If we spoke our language, we got strapped, or we got our mouths washed out with soap. A lot of different methods of punishment."

They were poorly fed and poorly treated.

"The scars haven’t healed."

"What’s happened to my generation is we’ve gone through these traumas — and there’s never been any healing for any one of them,” she said. “Now our grandkids are lost and we’re going through that trauma as grandparents and parents.

Shingwauk Cemetery with 110 Graves

The cemetery has 110 graves of students and staff. (Please see the list of names below.)

The students who died here were as young as five years old. The average age of students when they passed was 13 years old, according to known public records.

Tuberculosis and related illnesses claimed the most lives of students, 48.5%, then brain-related illnesses (10%), pneumonia, drowning, and typhoid fever.

Children were stolen and incarcerated in residential schools

"One thing that became very clear was that Shingwauk and other residential schools were not actually schools at all," writes the University of Toronto, Centre for Indigenous Studies. 

"Their purpose was not to provide education to children. Many of the survivors reflected that childhood at Shingwauk was more akin to growing up in a prison or under military rule, rather than being at a school. The events that took place at Shingwauk were horrific, and it is our duty to learn what transpired there and at other residential schools so that the truth can be revealed."

Mass Graves and Unmarked Graves in Canada

Marieval Residential School Cemetery, 751 unmarked graves found

Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation said that 751 unmarked graves were found at Marieval Residential School, operated by the Roman Catholic Church.

Chief Delorme said it is a crime to remove gravestones and it is being treated as a crime scene.

Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations, comprised of 74 sovereign First Nations in Saskatchewan, joined Chief Delorme for the press conference on Thursday.

Chief Cameron said First Nations children must come home to their communities.

"This was a crime against humanity."

Chief Cameron said First Nations will tell this story of these concentration camps, of this torture and genocide.

"Canada will be known as the country who tried to exterminate First Nations."

Describing the horror of these schools, Chief Cameron said, "They even had to dig graves for their own fellow students."

The horrific Residential School stories are slowly surfacing. This photo was taken of Aboriginal kids been picked up and loaded on a small truck, and taken to the Kamloops Residential school. (Photo credit: Les Williams, Kamloops). Most of the kids weren't dressed appropriately and were transported long distances in freezing weather, some kids were as young as 3 years old.

Last month the remains of 215 children, some as young as 3 years old, were found buried on the site of what was once Canada's largest Indigenous residential school near Kamloops, British Columbia, operated by the Roman Catholic Church.

Hospitals conducted sterilizations and medical experiments

For survivors and their families in Canada, the search continues for the location of the gravesites, and documents needed to hold those responsible for criminal acts, acts of genocide.

Currently, the search for gravesites includes the hospitals in Canada that conducted sterilizations, and medical experiments, on Indian children from residential schools.

This includes the Nanaimo Indian Hospital, an Indian Affairs and United Church experimental facility (1942-1970) on Department of National Defense land.

It includes the Allan Memorial Institute at McGill University in Montreal, which is still in operation since its opening in 1940. It is an MKULTRA experimental centre, where mind control and torture experiments were carried out in the program created by the United States CIA. 

The Indian Act in Canada: Stolen Children and Imprisoned Parents

The Indian Act of 1884 was amended in 1920. Parents who hid their children, from seizure by Indian agents, were imprisoned. The Indian agent was given the legal power to seize Native children. This kidnapping of Native children from their homes continued by the Canadian government until the 1960s.

Indian Act. R. S., c. 43, s. 1. 1884
11. The Governor in Council may make regulations, which shall have the force of law, for the committal by justices or Indian agents of children of Indian blood under the age of sixteen years, to such industrial school or boarding school, there to be kept, cared for and educated for a period not extending beyond the time at which such children shall reach the age of eighteen years.”

In 1920, the Act was amended to combat low attendance by making it compulsory for status Indian children to attend residential schools, with consequences to those who hid their children. If children were not readily handed over, the Indian Act gave power to the Indian agent to enter the family dwelling and seize the children, often with the help of the local constabulary or by the constabulary alone. Parents or guardians who tried to hide the children were liable to be arrested and or imprisoned.

Mohawk Institute 1831

The Canadian Archives include this document comparing the residential schools, which began in 1831, with the Mohawk Institute at Brantford, Ontario.

Shingwauk Residential School Principals

Principal NameYears
Rev. E.F. Wilson1873-1893
Rev. James Irvine1893-1894
James Lawler1894
George Ley King1897-1906
Rev. Benjamin P. Fuller1910-1929
Rev. Charles F. Hives1929-1941
Rev. Canon Arthur E. Minchin1941-1948
Rev. Douglas C. Wickenden1948-1954
Rev. Roy Phillips1954-1966
Robert Martin1964-1965
David Lawson1966-1967
Alan Wheatley (administrator)1967-1968
Rev. Noel Goater (administrator)1968-1970
Source: Wikipedia

Shingwauk Narratives: Sharing Residential School History 

by Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre

Statistics based on known burials in the Shingwauk Cemetery

Total number of burials: 110

Total number of students: 72 (65%)

Student age range: 5-20 years old

The average age of students when they passed: 13 years old

Common causes of death: Tuberculosis and related illnesses (48.5%), brain-related illnesses (10%), pneumonia, drowning, typhoid fever

List of student home communities by region:

Southwestern Ontario (38%)- Moraviantown, Muncey, Sarnia, Walpole Island

Manitoulin Island (12%)- Little Current, Sheguiandah, Sheshegwaning, Sucker Creek, Whitefish River

Mid-Ontario (10%) – Cape Croker, Rama, Saugeen, Christian Island

Quebec (10%)- Kahnawake, Oka, St. Regis

Northeastern Ontario (10%) – Michipicoten, Missanabie, Spanish River

Northwestern Ontario (5%) – Fort William, Lake Nipigon

Alberta (1%) – Blackfoot Crossing

NameDate of DeathApprox. AgeCause of DeathHome CommunityRoleNotes
Mrs. William Stratton1871Sault Ste. MarieCommunity memberBuried before the land was donated to the school
Mabel Laurie WilsonSep 30, 1873PneumoniaSault Ste. MarieStaff familyOriginally buried in Collingwood, body later moved to Shingwauk Cemetery
Hannah WeezhooJan 30, 187613Brain diseaseWalpole IslandStudent
Solomon CorningMay 18, 18768TuberculosisSarniaStudent
Susan StrattonApr 30, 1876Sault Ste. MarieCommunity memberAlso worked for the Wilson’s as a nurse
baby StrattonNov 5, 1876Sault Ste. MarieCommunity member
John RoddNov 28, 187716Cerebro spinal meningitisSarniaStudent
Frederick OshkapukedaMay 17, 187915TuberculosisLake NipigonStudent
Louis Morris MinwahsinSep 18, 187913TuberculosisMichipicotenStudent
Sarah FauquierNov 4, 1881Sault Ste. MarieBishop’s wifeDied in New York State, buried at Shingwauk Spring 1882
Frederick Dawson FauquierDec 7, 188164Sault Ste. MarieBishop of AlgomaDied in Toronto, buried at Shingwauk Spring 1882
Charlie PenahsewaJan 5, 188211Typhoid feverSheshegwaningStudent
Benjamin Beaconsfield ChegaunsJan 16, 188214TuberculosisMichipicotenStudent
Peter JacobsFeb 8, 18829SarniaStudent
William SaguhchewayMay 16, 188219Inflammation of the bowelsWalpole IslandStudent
Simon AltmanJun 4, 188211PneumoniaWalpole IslandStudent
Henry Grey AustinJun 1882 or Apr 9, 1883
Martha MarkApr 1, 18858TuberculosisChristian IslandStudent
Annie HoweSep 7, 18857Tuberculosis
Matilda EsquimauFeb 18, 18865 mo.Possibly the daughter of John Esquimau or Joseph Esquimau
Charles Mortimer GreeneJan 23, 1888Clergy family
Jane WarnerMar 3, 188810Walpole IslandStudent
David EtukitsininaniApr 23, 188817TuberculosisBlackfoot Crossing, AlbertaStudentWilson brought him and another Blackfoot boy to Shingwauk after the Northwest Rebellion in 1885
Florence PritchardJan 12, 1889
Peter Jones StoneFeb 26, 188911ScrofulaStudent
Mary KadahSep 8, 188917SheshegwaningStudent
Blanche MaddenJan 7, 18905Student
Asa PetersMay 6, 189010TuberculosisWalpole IslandStudent
Josephine SampsonMay 23, 189014TuberculosisSheshegwaningStudent
Edward WaukayJun 3, 189017TuberculosisCape CrokerStudent
Caroline WaukayJun 9, 189011TuberculosisCape CrokerStudent
William EsquimauApr 2, 189111TuberculosisLittle CurrentStudent
Mary PetuhwepejhikDec 13, 189112SheshegwaningStudent
Llwellyn JacksonJul 10, 189310SarniaStudent
John Clifford MaddenAug 13, 1896InfantCholera
Andrew StaceyMay 19, 189711DrowningKahnawakeStudent
John StrattonDec 28, 1898
Robert WhiteMay 1, 189919PneumoniaWalpole IslandStudent
Alexander KnaggsJun 30, 189914PneumoniaWalpole IslandStudent
William StonefishMar 13, 190114Typhoid feverMoraviantownStudent
Mary SemoMar 6, 190215TuberculosisSt. RegisStudent
Isaac ShebahgezhisSep 9, 190210TuberculosisSpanish RiverStudent
Isaac KezhihgobinisOct 3, 190212Typhoid feverSucker CreekStudent
Henry KechegoMay 21, 190312TuberculosisMunceyStudent
Albert PenanceJul 30, 190314Heart failureWalpole IslandStudent
Isaac ThomasMar 5, 190412TuberculosisWalpole IslandStudent
Elliot SampsonNov 3, 190414TuberculosisWalpole IslandStudent
Simon JacobsFeb 22, 190519TuberculosisMoraviantownStudent
Julia JacobsApr 6, 190513TuberculosisWalpole IslandStudent
Lawson Musouesh KodawaOct 9, 190514TuberculosisWhitefish RiverStudent
Sara SkilliterDec 9, 19057Typhoid feverFort WilliamStudent
Julia MasugFeb 15, 190613Congestion of brainWalpole IslandStudent
Andrew JohnsonMar 7, 190617Tuberculosis and typhoid feverWalpole IslandStudent
Dora Isaacs/JacobsMar 27, 190613TuberculosisWalpole IslandStudent
Edward Wilfred LacelleMay 7, 19061Meningitis
Frank GreyJan 12, 19077MeningitisSarniaStudent
Jacob GreyApr 30, 19079PeritonitisSarniaStudent
Willis R. FisherJan 14, 191115TuberculosisSarniaStudentDied at the hospital
Peter StaceyJul 30, 191120DrowningKahnawakeFormer studentWas working as a miner at time of death, drowned near Bellevue Park
Kathleen Fuller1912Staff family
Sinclair SpanielMar 14, 191215TuberculosisSpanish RiverStudent
Frank SpanielMar 14, 191217TuberculosisSpanish RiverStudent
Leslie E. FullerNov 28, 191216Staff family
baby McGillivrayMar 1912still born
Lucy KezhekobsuseJan 14, 191310TuberculosisWhitefish RiverStudent
Thomas S. SkilliterJul 12, 191318TuberculosisFort WilliamStudent
Fred “Michael” FullerNov 18, 1913TuberculosisStaff family
Isaac CornwallJul 23, 191485Old age
Andrew WahcanehJan 10, 191618TuberculosisMunceyStudent
Ruby CurleyMar 2, 19169Tuberculosis meningitisStudent
Wilfred LacelleJun 25, 19167PneumoniaStaff family
Carrie VincentApr 18, 19177TuberculosisMissanabieStudent
Mary A. FullerSep 10, 191751Pernicious anemiaStaff
Margaret EmeryFeb 12, 1918
Charles NingishkungFeb 9, 191913PneumoniaRamaStudent
Frank OshkapukedaFeb 13, 191913PneumoniaLake NipigonStudent
Solomon KahgeeJul 18, 191912TuberculosisSaugeenStudent
Mary TobicoJul 1, 192314TuberculosisSaugeenStudent
Roy RichardsMay 11, 192415TuberculosisStudent
Ida Annie McNeilJan 18, 192550Staff
Evelyn Boonus/BarnesMar 15, 192714EndocarditisSaugeenStudent
Percival LacelleAug 20, 192816TuberculosisStudentFamily was living in Sault Ste. Marie? Died in a house on Parliament Street
Gowan GilmorSep 1, 192878Old ageClergy
Peter BeavoisNov 20, 19298DrowningOkaStudent
Louise IsaacDec 30, 192912TuberculosisGround HogStudent
Lily NicholasFeb 15, 193614Scarlet feverQuebecStudent
Myrtle RileyJun 6, 193615Tubercular meningitisStudentPossibly buried at Walpole Island not Shingwauk
Norma SoneyOct 29, 193710PneumoniaWalpole IslandStudentPossibly buried in Wallaceburg not Shingwauk
Maurice John GreavesDec 6, 193725StrepStaff
Howard GreenbirdDec 10, 19377Whooping coughWalpole IslandStudent
Mary MartinDec 16, 19377Tubercular meningitisOkaStudent
Lulu Margaret BottrellFeb 9, 1938Staff
Beulah HenryNov 18, 193813AppendicitisMunceyStudent
Alfred GreavesFeb 15, 194061Brain abscessClergyDied at Muskoka Hospital for Consumptives
Dudley ShillingAug 15, 194016DrowningRamaStudent
Leo Eugene KicknoswayMay 8, 194215Acute dilation of stomachWalpole IslandStudent
Doreen WilsonSep 8, 194214Brain abscessQuebecStudent
Fred NahwahgezhikNov 2, 194315Rheumatic fever and pancarditisSheguiandahStudent
Benjamin Philip FullerDec 7, 194581Intestinal obstructionPrincipalDied on Manitoulin Island
Agnes McGrawOct 28, 1950
Alice Elizabeth FullerApr 14, 1955Staff family
Francis Bertram WilsonDec 11, 1956Student
Seymour HayesJun 24, 1957
Annie MorrowSep 28, 1967Clergy family
David John MacKenzieApr 23, 1970
Helena Ann HayesMar 18, 1973
Benna FullerJan 28, 197789StrokeStaff
Noel Thomas1983Cremains
Dorothy Lillian FordAug 19, 1983Cremains
Wilfred GreavesMar 27, 2016 94Clergy family

Censored News: The list of 28 unmarked graves at residential schools published in 2008, based on historical data and eyewitness accounts: 

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