Canadian Indian residential school system | mortality rates
Residential school deaths were common and have been linked to the persistence of poorly constructed and maintained facilities.:92–101 The actual number of deaths remains unknown due to inconsistent reporting by school officials and the destruction of medical and administrative records in compliance with
The 1906 Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs, submitted by chief medical officer
In 1909, Bryce reported that, between 1894 and 1908, mortality rates at some residential schools in western Canada ranged from 30 to 60 per cent over five years (that is, five years after entry, 30 to 60 per cent of students had died, or 6 to 12 per cent per annum). These statistics did not become public until 1922, when Bryce, who was no longer working for the government, published The Story of a National Crime: Being a Record of the Health Conditions of the Indians of Canada from 1904 to 1921. In particular, he alleged that the high mortality rates could have been avoided if healthy children had not been exposed to children with tuberculosis. At the time, no antibiotic had been identified to treat the disease, and this exacerbated the impact of the illness.
In 1920 and 1922,
In 2011, reflecting on the TRC's research, Justice
The TRC concluded that it may be impossible to ever identify the number of deaths or missing children, in part because of the habit of burying students in unmarked graves. The work is further complicated by a pattern of poor record keeping by school and government officials, who neglected to keep reliable numbers about the number of children who died or where they were buried. While most schools had cemeteries on site, their location and extent remain difficult to determine as cemeteries that were originally marked were found to have been later razed, intentionally hidden or built over.
The fourth volume of the TRC's final report, dedicated to missing children and unmarked burials, was developed after the original TRC members realized, in 2007, that the issue required its own working group. In 2009, the TRC requested $1.5 million in extra funding from the federal government to complete this work, but was denied. The researchers concluded, after searching land near schools using satellite imagery and maps, that, "for the most part, the cemeteries that the Commission documented are abandoned, disused, and vulnerable to accidental disturbance".:1