Churches buried evidence of their cruelty
IN IRELAND, the bodies of around 800 babies who died of neglect at a Catholic workhouse for unmarried mothers were dumped in a septic tank.
And in Canada, an as yet unknown number of Mohawk children – victims of an alleged church/state genocide campaign – were buried at the oldest Indian residential school in Canada, the Anglican-run Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Ontario.
Details emerged this week of the grisly discovery at a home for “fallen” women in Tuam, a town in County Galway. The institution was run by the Bon Secours nuns between 1925 and 1961. Thousands of “fallen women” and their “illegitimate” children passed through the workhouse, known simply as The Home (pictured above).
More than five decades after the Home was closed and demolished to make way for a housing development and children’s playground, it was discovered that almost 800 children who had to be abandoned by their mothers, died of neglect and their bodies were piled into a massive septic tank at the back of the building.
Local historian Catherine Corless, who uncovered the origins of the mass grave in a batch of never-before-released documents, told The Washington Post:
The bones are still there. The children who died in the Home, this was them.
The grim findings, which are being investigated by police, provide a glimpse into a particularly dark time for unmarried pregnant women in Ireland, where societal and religious mores stigmatized them. Without means to support themselves, women by the hundreds wound up at the Home.
When daughters became pregnant, they were ostracized completely. Families would be afraid of neighbors finding out, because to get pregnant out of marriage was the worst thing on Earth. It was the worst crime a woman could commit, even though a lot of the time it had been because of a rape.
Children of unmarried mothers were kept segregated from other kids in Tuam and disappeared by the age of nine, either adopted or dead.
Another investigation is now under way in Canada, where – in late 2011 in Brantford, Ontario – forensic evidence emerged of the burial of children at the oldest Indian residential school in Canada during an initial excavation of the site.
The Mohawk Institute – dubbed the “Mush Hole” by the Mohawk people – was established in 1832 by the Crown and Church of England. Records indicate that on average 40 percent of the children who entered the Institute – which was shut in 1970 – died.
According to a lengthy report published by the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State, further excavations at the site were halted in the face of strong opposition from the Canadian authorities and the Anglican and Catholic Churches – all alleged to have been complicit in the genocide of 50,000 children across the country.
However, a fresh team is now to investigate the site, the ITCCS report says.
According to this report, the main purported role of residential schools such as the Mohawk Institute was to:
Christianize and civilize.
What impact did this goal have on the Indigenous peoples of Canada? This is a difficult question to answer and has not been largely addressed academically. Many survivors retell the difficulties in returning to their homes after residential schools. Many had lost skills needed to survive in the community, including the ability to speak their native tongue.
One of the major repercussions of residential schools is the near death of many Indigenous languages (Barman, 1995). Students were forces to learned English and punished for speaking their own languages.
• The picture at the top of the page Canadian children pictured praying at one of many residential schools set up to ‘Christianise’ youngsters.
Hat tip: Angela K and Robert Stovold