At a highly-publicized media event in Kamloops on 15 July 2021, Don Worme, former counsel to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and in July 2021 the Kamloops Band’s lawyer, said:."Well, I think what we can say firstly is that it’s undeniable that those are graves. There’s no question that there have been children gone missing. Our Knowledge Keepers from this community have told us so. We believe them.".Is it ‘undeniable’, as Don Worme claimed, that there at graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School? Quite the contrary. Dr Sarah Beaulieu’s ground penetrating radar (GPR) machine almost certainly detected the septic field trenches installed in 1924 to dispose of the school’s sewage, trenches of which Dr Beaulieu was unaware, and Dr Beaulieu herself stated that she revised her earlier claim of 215 GPR results indicating ‘probable burials' down to 200 because she had erroneously identified as ‘probable burials’ shovel test pits dug years earlier by the Simon Fraser University Archaeological Department working together with the Kamloops Band..Is there ‘no question’ that children went missing, as Don Worme claimed? Again, quite the contrary. Kimberly Murray, special adviser to the Minister of Justice, told the Standing Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples on 21 March 2023 that there are no missing children: "The children aren’t missing; they’re buried in the cemeteries.".So there are no graves at Kamloops, merely septic field trenches and archaeological shovel test pits, and there are no missing children according to Kimberly Murray. The anonymous Knowledge Keepers were mistaken, and should not have been believed by anyone, including Don Worme..Is this an isolated case of Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and community members being mistaken because of faulty memories?.No, it is not..Consider these examples..Pine Creek.On 11 May 2022, Chief Derek Nepinak announced that a GPR search had begun at the former Pine Creek Indian Residential School based on community members’ claims of missing children:."We feel that the truth of our community has to be identified, and it has to be told by us, by our own people," Nepinak said..One community member, Jennifer Rocchio, said her grandmother, Dorothy Nepinak, claimed 11-year-old Thomas Nepinak died when he was detained in a ‘punishment area' after a fight at the school, and ‘did not return home’..Jennifer Rocchio, a member of Pine Creek First Nation who lives in St. Anne, Man., said her grandmother attended the residential school with some of her siblings, one of whom did not return home.."His name is Thomas and he was 11," she said. "He never came home from residential school, so everyone is looking forward to hopefully getting his remains so they can do a proper burial for him.".Rocchio said Thomas had gotten into an altercation with students at the school, and instead of being taken to a nurse after getting hurt, he was brought to a punishment area and died a couple of days later..In a later tweet, Jennifer Rocchio described her great-uncle, Thomas Nepinak, as ‘one of the missingchildren’..In fact, school quarterly returns show that Thomas Nepinak, Register No. 232, was at the Crerar Hospital in March 1942, and sick at home from then until his death almost two years later on 11 January 1944. His Manitoba death certificate states that he died of tuberculosis at home on the Pine Creek Reserve and was buried at Camperville. In other words, Thomas Nepinak’s death had nothing to do with the former Pine Creek Indian Residential School, and he is buried in his reserve cemetery. Jennifer Rocchio was mistaken, as was her grandmother..Chief Derek Nepinak could have obtained a copy of Thomas Nepinak’s Manitoba death certificate prior to allowing Jennifer Rocchio’s erroneous account to be reported by the CBC, but he didn't do that. Had he done so, Chief Nepinak would have seen that the death certificate was signed by Thomas Nepinak’s uncle, Jerome Nepinak, whose son Valentine Nepinak was boys' supervisor and athletic instructor at the Pine Creek Indian Residential School in 1957 (see the school newsletter in which many members of the Nepinak family are mentioned, as well as other Indigenous staff.).Instead of being guided by school quarterly returns, Manitoba death certificates, and school newsletters, Chief Nepinak went ahead with a GPR search, and claimed that GPR had detected 14 burials in the basement of the historic Our Lady of Sorrows Church near the school. A subsequent year-long RCMP investigation found no evidence of any criminal activity connected to the GPR results, but despite the RCMP report, Chief Nepinak brought in a team of archaeological experts to excavate the church basement. The excavation turned up no human remains. The media fanfare with which Chief Nepinak had announced the GPR search and the excavation of the church basement was noticeably absent from the Chief's disgruntled announcement in a Facebook video that no murdered and secretly buried children had been found. Nor did Chief Nepinak admit that the memories of Jennifer Rocchio and other community members which had prompted the GPR search and the excavation of the church basement were obviously faulty, and should not have been believed..Shubenacadie Indian Residential School.In August 2021, an excavation at the former Shubenacadie Indian Residential School turned up no clandestinely buried residential school children: A statement from Sipekne'katik First Nation Wednesday said while the crews did find evidence of unmarked graves, those graves pre-date the period of the residential school by about 100 years and are connected to former landowners..Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack said he had mixed emotions about the results of the search.."On one hand, I was very grateful that no children were recovered. And on the other hand, you know, I feel that there is something somewhere because a lot of our community members that are survivors are certain that people did go missing, that there are people there somewhere.".Once again, although anonymous community members were ‘certain that people did go missing’, they were clearly mistaken, and should not have been believed..Charles Camsell Hospital.In October 2021, an expensive excavation at the former Charles Camsell Hospital in Edmonton turned up nothing:.Chief Calvin Bruneau of the Papaschase First Nation said he has mixed feelings about the results. He said there are lingering concerns given all the accounts of people being buried at the site..Again, the faulty memories of community members should not have been believed..Grouard.In 2022, Kisha Supernant announced that, based on locations identifed by anonymous Survivors and Elders, she had found 54 unmarked graves outside the boundaries of the community cemetery at Grouard:.Kisha Supernant, project lead and director of the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology at the University of Alberta, said the discovery supports what survivors and elders had been saying. . . ..Searchers focused on a small parcel of land around the school, also called St. Bernard's Indian Residential School. Fifty-four potential graves were located by the church, a former nuns residence and by an old root cellar..Subsequently, a second GPR survey was done by Tetra Tech using more sophisticated technology. In early July of this year, the results were released to the Band (but not to the media). Tetra Tech had found no verifiable unmarked graves outside the community cemetery. In other words, the alleged 54 unmarked graves found in 2022 by Kisha Supernant near the church, the nuns’ residence, and an old root cellar were GPR ‘phantoms’, and the memories of anonymous Survivors and Elders who had directed her to these alleged burial sites were faulty and should not have been believed..McGill University.Last October in a lawsuit in the Quebec Superior Court in which Don Worme was involved, the Mohawk Mothers claimed there were unmarked graves at the former Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, and obtained a temporary injunction against McGill University to stop the renovation and excavation of the site..“You’ve never seen a case like this because there hasn’t been one. And quite frankly, the fact that Indigenous people can get justice in a courtroom is, it just goes to prove that we’re not completely shut out, but it does take extraordinary measures,” said lawyer Donald Worme, who, along with lawyer Julian Falconer, were present at the hearing as legal counsel for Kimberly R. Murray, the Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools..Calling themselves “traditional custodians of the land,” they presented their evidence before the court, including testimony from MK-Ultra psychological experiments survivor Lana Ponting, who said she had seen Indigenous children at the hospital when she was there and witnessed clandestine grave-digging in her affidavit..In addition to GPR, cadaver dogs were used in an attempt to detect human remains:.Each dog gave a signal near a stretch of wall near the Hersey Pavilion, which used to be the nurses’ dorms..However when the area near the wall was excavated, nothing was found. The unverified claims by anonymous persons of unmarked graves should not have been believed..Sto:lo Nation.On 21 September 2023, the Sto:lo Nation, a political amalgamation of 11 communities stretching through the entire Fraser Valley and beyond, announced that it had found yet more unverified GPR soil disturbances:.The Stó:lō Nation in B.C.'s Fraser Valley says its probe into missing children and unmarked burials has so far identified, with certainty, 158 children who died at or because of their attendance at three former residential school sites and one former hospital..Preliminary findings from ground-penetrating radar also suggest numerous anomalies that could be unmarked graves at St. Mary's Residential School in Mission, according to the Nation's research team..Not only did these 11 communities not have a residential school on any of their reserves, but they have expanded the scope of their searches to include All Hallows in Yale, a school for white and Indigenous female students which was not part of the 2006 IRS Settlement Agreement as well as the Coqualeetza Indian Hospital for adult and child TB patients where it is obviously unsurprising that deaths occurred, and have apparently ignored Amongst God’s Own; The Enduring Legacy of St. Mary’s Mission, by journalist Terry Glavin and former students of St Mary’s Indian Residential School in Mission. Again, horror stories by anonymous Survivors with faulty memories are featured in the Sto:lo press release, but not one scrap of verified evidence, as has been the case with every other Band announcement since the Kamloops Band’s false claim on 27 May 2021 that ‘the remains of 215 children’ had been found. Outrageous tales told by Survivors mentioned in the Sto:lo press release include the following:.[Kostuchenko] said the research team heard cases of children being killed, secretive burials of children and babies, furnaces being used to cremate bodies and children being forced to bury other children..The team also heard stories and found evidence of children being intentionally infected with tuberculosis and other disease as punishment, being forced to eat moldy food, and forced labour, she said..One story included firefighters responding to a fire at the St. Mary's girls' dormitory and finding remains of fetuses in the walls, added Kostuchenko..The devastating findings confirm what residential school survivors and community members have long known, said Jimmie and Kelly. . . .."We know, in here, that some of those children never made it home," he added, pointing to his heart..In summary, there’s a pattern here. Stories told by elderly people with faulty memories are unquestioningly accepted and widely publicized by Bands and by the legacy media. The names of these people are not revealed to the media or the public, and are known only to some Band members. GPR searches — funded by the federal government with no requirements of accountability or transparency — are undertaken on the basis of the vague and unsupported statements made by these anonymous persons, but the GPR reports paid for by Canadian taxpayers are never released to the media or the public, with the result that the media and general public cannot independently verify whether anything has actually been found. The GPR results are seldom followed up by excavation (Kamloops has not been excavated more than two years after the false claim that ’the remains of 215 children’ had been discovered), but when excavations do take place, nothing is found — no human remains, no clandestinely buried children, no murdered children, no missing children. In other words, the Knowledge Keepers, Survivors, Elders and community members should not have been unquestioningly believed..Nonetheless, the same scenario continues to be repeated by other Bands across the country because federal government money is always available to pay for the GPR searches. The federal government is unwilling to accept that stories told by anonymous elderly Knowledge Keepers, Survivors, Elders and community members with failing and faulty memories simply have no basis in reality, and as a result, the federal government encourages this dysfunctional process to continue by keeping the funds for GPR searches flowing..This has to stop. It’s tearing Indigenous communities apart. Community members are traumatized and anguished by the ambiguous GPR results, and re-traumatized and confused when excavations take place and nothing is found. Moreover these false claims of murdered and missing children are irreparably damaging Canada’s reputation throughout the world, particularly since foreign news outlets are increasingly calling the claims a hoax..Nina Green is an independent researcher with a keen interest in archival detective work.