Hidden from History:
The Canadian Holocaust
The Truth and Its Consequences:
A Reply to my Detractors
by Rev. Kevin Annett
Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I speak the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? I am telling the truth; why don't you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
On October 17, 1994, while serving as a United Church minister in Port Alberni, BC, I discovered that my church had violated its own policy and principles by selling off aboriginal land in its possession to white businessmen associated with its financial benefactor, the logging corporation MacMillan-Bloedel.
The same day, I wrote a letter of concern about this matter to my employer, the Executive of Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery. Within two months, the same body unilaterally removed me from my pulpit, without cause or notice, and eventually had me permanently expelled from ordained ministry.
My removal was not precipitated by any fault or wrongdoing on my part as a minister, as BC Conference Secretary Brian Thorpe admitted in writing on September 15, 1995, when he stated, "There are no charges against you ... no accusations or list of specifications." On the contrary; my work as a minister in Port Alberni had been "exemplary", according to Rev. Bruce Gunn of my neighbouring pastoral charge, and was described by the very church official who engineered my removal, BC Conference Personnel Officer Art Anderson, as "admirable, impeccable and beyond reproach". During my tenure at St. Andrew's United Church in Port Alberni, my congregation grew from twenty people on a Sunday to over one hundred - a size which it remained until the day of my firing, on January 23, 1995.
For the United Church to have spent over $250,000 to have me fired and permanently "de-listed" from ministry, when according to its own officers I not only did nothing wrong and was not charged with anything, but was a fully competent minister, seems completely absurd - unless one realizes, as I have had to from bitter experience, that my removal was simply the silencing of an embarrassing "whistle-blower" who had inadvertantly exposed corruption and land theft by church officers.
Indeed, nothing else can explain what has happened to me, and why the United Church leadership continues to malign and libel me publicly, and to its members and clergy.
The latest in these unwarranted smear campaigns has recently been circulated to every United Church and media outlet in BC, from the church Conference office in Vancouver. It is a scaremongering "warning" letter to church members and the public, supposedly about me. It contains a completely falsified version of my history in the church, states that I was removed for so-called "mental instability" - a charge never made against me by any church official - and does not mention the land theft issue that prompted my expulsion from my pulpit in 1995.
It is, in short, a carefully constructed lie.
Why are otherwise responsible officials of the United Church stooping so low as to spread such lies and fear about me throughout the church and media, at such cost and effort?
Part of the answer lies in the fact that, when I challenged the church over its illegal sale of First Nations land to its business associates, I was raising a mirror in which we all had to look at our actual, and not imagined, history with aboriginal people on the west coast.
On the very land sold by the church to its friends, Lot 363 of the Marktosis reserve in the Ahousat First Nation, the United Church ran its Ahousat Indian Residential School for many years. At this same school, according to native eyewitnesses who spoke from my Port Alberni pulpit just before I was fired, children were deliberately killed by church officials, including the Principal, Reverend Alfred Caldwell. (See The Vancouver Sun, December 20, 1995, "Beaten to Death for Theft of a Prune").
The murder of Albert Gray by Alfred Caldwell, described in the Vancouver Sun article, was not an isolated incident. The Government of Canada's own archives indicate that over 50% of the native children who were forced into residential schools died there; a fact that I have made public, to the great anger of church officials, through the recent publication of a 280 page report entitled "Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust". (see website: http://www.nexusmagazine.com/canada.html)
Faced with the evidence of its own crimes - and its own spiritual sickness - the church, like any of us, can do one of two things: admit the hard truth, and face the consequences, or seek to worm its way out of responsibility by lying about it all, and vilifying those like myself who seek the truth.
Sadly, the church leaders have time and again taken the latter course, as their latest lies about me indicate.
I have hesitated responding to such lies issued by the church, since they are lawyers' fabrications designed to confuse the enormous criminal and moral issues facing the church. As Conference Secretary Brian Thorpe admitted at my "de-listing" trial in January, 1997, "I only do what I'm told to do by the legal office of the General Council of our church." But for the sake of posterity and the many well-meaning members of the United Church who have been given only one version of this matter, I must now answer the lies made about me by the leadership of the United Church:
Lie #1: Kevin had alienated his congregation, was suffering from "mental instability", and refused "help" and advice from the church.
Fact: An "alienated" congregation does not continue to fill the pews every Sunday or vote by over 90% to renew the appointment of their minister, which was the case in my congregation in October, 1994, just before my removal. Church officials have not produced a shred of evidence to substantiate their claim of a disaffected congregation, or of "mental instability" on my part. This is not surprising, since the objective condition of my congregation when I was fired in January, 1995 contradicts the lie about me concocted by the very officials who removed me without due process, and who then, after the fact, had to come up with a reason for their illegal and unwarranted action - an action which went against the wishes of my own church board. For, according to the affidavit of St. Andrew's church board member Gerry Walerius, "Presbytery officials told us that Kevin was to be removed immediately and that no-one was to tell him." (August 28, 1996) In fact, not one of the thirty-eight letters of support for me from members of my Port Alberni congregation ever appeared in the United Church's "final report" concerning my case.
Lie #2: Kevin's removal and expulsion from ministry had nothing to do with residential schools or the sale of Lot 363 in Ahousat.
Fact: The Presbytery official who approved my removal, Bob Stiven, stated under oath at my "de-listing" trial on October 6, 1996, "We had no concerns about Kevin at all until he wrote his letter about Lot 363. Then we knew we had to do something." (Vancouver Independent Reporters, Inc. transcripts) The same official stated under oath the next day, "In my rage, I can't say that Kevin received a fair hearing in our Presbytery - not after all his talk about murdered Indian children." Presbytery lawyer Iain Benson stated on record on the first day of this trial that "Reverend Annett is not being recommended for de-listing because of any action or failure to act while a minister in Port Alberni, but because of certain statements and behaviour by him regarding the liability of the United Church for abuses at its residential schools." (August 28, 1996)
Lie #3: No aboriginal organization endorses the charges of genocide made by Kevin against the churches.
Fact: As of March 1, 2002, twenty-two native band councils across Canada have endorsed the charges of genocide made by The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, of which I am the Secretary, and have communicated this fact to the United Nations and world media. The Assembly of First Nations has condemned the "genocidal practices of church and state residential schools" in numerous press releases. And the June, 1998 United Nations-affiliated Tribunal held in Vancouver, which first documented the evidence of the sterilization and murder of native children in residential schools, was organized and sponsored by five different aboriginal groups in BC, and by IHRAAM, a non-governmental organization with consultative status at the UN General Assembly.
Lie #4: The aforementioned Tribunal never took place.
Fact: The June 20, 1998 issue of The Globe and Mail, page A20, reports the Tribunal in question. ("Probe of Canadian residential schools to be reported at UN"). The complete documentation of this Tribunal, including affidavits, newspaper articles, and the correspondence of IHRAAM, can be found at the Truth Commission's website (above), and in its report "Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust", which is available at the Vancouver Public Library.
Lie #5: Kevin received due process and a fair hearing.
Fact: At no time during or after my firing and "de-listing" was I ever presented with a list of charges against me, the names of my accusers, or the reasons for my suspension from ministry, as is my right under common law and natural justice. I was denied this information outright by Brian Thorpe, church lawyer Jon Jessiman, and church officials Art Anderson and Mollie Williams, who chaired the "de-listing" panel. I was not even informed of the grounds for de-listing a United Church minister after I had requested such knowledge, and as a result I could not mount any kind of self-defense at my "de-listing". The denial of this basic common law right is by definition a lack of due process and justice, according to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Further, the judge at my de-listing, Jon Jessiman, had acted as the lawyer for my employer after my firing, invalidating his neutrality. The panel of three jurors who ruled on my fate was chosen by Brian Thorpe, who had arranged my firing, and who was then called as a witness against me at the same trial! Twenty five observers at my de-listing petitioned the Attorney-General of BC in 1997 to review that trial on the grounds that it constituted an official "railroading" of a bona fide minister out of his career and livelihood.
Lie #6: The United Church has acknowledged and apologized for the wrongs commited at its residential schools.
Fact: The United Church has acknowledged only two of the forty-seven documented crimes committed at its residential schools: physical and sexual abuse. It refuses to comment on the evidence of sterilizations, medical experimentation, torture, murder and other crimes against humanity attested to by eyewitnesses and official records. It has made no offer to compensate the victims of these crimes or to surrender the perpetrators. And, until the release by myself, in September, 1997, of documents which proved that the United Church was the legal guardian of native students at its residential schools, the church was claiming that it bore no responsibility for any wrongs at the schools, including physical and sexual abuse.
A Final Reflection, and Appeal:
I began this letter with some quotes from the Gospels which describe the nature of evil, as a Lie incarnated. My experience with the officialdom of the United Church is that they, indeed, "hate the light, and will not come into the light for fear that (their) deeds will be exposed". Tragically, the deceitful and untruthful behaviour of these officials and their lawyers is replicated throughout every level of the church, as clergy and members alike are expected to believe and propagate the "official lies" about me and the residential school crimes.
I have received late-night phone calls from senior ministers of the United Church who have told me, in tears, how they have been threatened by church officials with dismissal or the suspension of their pension benefits if they support me or even associate themselves with my statements.
I have spoken with the victims of convicted serial rapist Russell Crossley, a United Church minister in Victoria who in 1998 was lauded and praised by the official publications of the B.C. Conference of the church as a "valuable and respected minister", even after he had been convicted of serially raping women in his congregations for over thirty years.
I have seen the scars on the tongues and the fingers of native men and women who, as little children at residential schools, were held down by United Church ministers and had needles shoved into their innocent flesh, and were raped, for the"crime" of being themselves.
I listened in a provincial court room in 1996 as my ex-wife's lawyer described how United Church officials intervened in my divorce and gave him confidential church records which maligned my reputation, and lost me the custody of my two daughters.
I witnessed as United Church officers spent over $250,000 on lawyers to have me expelled from their ranks, after they had closed down the Loaves and Fishes food bank in my Port Alberni church because they "couldn't afford" the $1000 each month that was spent on feeding the poor and aboriginal families of our neighbourhood.
In all of these moments, I have witnessed the Evil One alive and "well" in the heart of the United Church, masquerading behind the rhetoric and authority of unelected, unaccountable men whose primary loyalty is to money and power. The United Church of Canada is exhibiting all the symptoms of a spritually sick and dying body.
At no time in the more than seven years since my firing have I witnessed any clergy, official or member of the United Church publicly challenge this regime of lies and corruption within the church. On the contrary, ministers and activists in the church seem content to reserve their moral perceptiveness and outrage for human rights abuses many miles away, rather than for the state of affairs in their own ranks. Even worse, otherwise sensitive and reasonable people in the church have been so easily caught up and recruited into the campaign to demonize myself and evoke fear and denial about the facts of genocide by the United Church which I have helped to surface.
Over the years, I have counselled many people who are facing death, and I have learned that the first stage of denial is the most difficult phase for people to pass through and overcome, since through it our frightened psyches cling to the illusion that the end is not approaching. It is often not members of the dying person's immediate family, but complete strangers or counsellors, who are able to make the person see that death is approaching, and help him or her work through the next steps of anger, fear, and acceptance.
What is true for the individual is even more true for the collective - even for an entire church. I was a United Church member since my confirmation as a teenager in 1972, and was ordained as a minister in 1990 until my expulsion in 1997, and during that entire period I became increasingly aware that the United Church is a dying institution, with all the characteristics of a terminal patient in profound denial of his fate.
Some of the symptoms of this terminal condition that I have experienced firsthand are: a bureaucratic rigidity and manipulative system of authority, an absence of the most basic practices of democracy, accountability or due process, an intolerant atmosphere of mental and spiritual conformity, and of "theological correctness", and an internal regime of fear inspired and controlled by an unelected, abusive leadership.
Perhaps even more to the point, the simple commands of Jesus have been proven, in practice, to be not only "unworkable" in the modern church but to constitute a direct threat to the survival of the church. To practice the Gospels, ministers and others have had to leave the church or, like myself, face a brutal eviction and pillorying by inquisitorial officials.
Oliver Cromwell said "An immovable Parliament is worse than no Parliament at all." How much more so is this true regarding the church which claims to represent Jesus Christ and his teachings: an apostate and immovable church is worse than none at all, and must be abandoned to its death throes by all genuine Christians. For "whoever blasphemies against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." (Mark 3:29)
For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the bare events of murder and corruption surrounding the so-called churches in Canada should be enough to prompt them out of these false bodies and into a simpler and direct relationship with Jesus and the Creator that is truthful and healthy. In this sense, all the suffering that so many of us have endured at the hands of these churches will be justified if it serves God by exposing the Lie that presently stands garbed in churchly clothing.
For the sake of your own integrity and spiritual health, I urge all those who read this letter to step away from any association with the United Church of Canada, the Anglican, the Presbyterian, and the Roman Catholic churches in our country. Do not let the Lie continue to subvert God's plan and corrupt the innocent. Do not violate international law by aiding and abetting these church institutions, which planned and carried out the deliberate extermination of non-Christian aboriginal peoples, and which continue to deny their guilt and resist justice.
May the light of God illuminate all of our footsteps towards the new Creation.
In that resurrection struggle, and hope,
Reverend Kevin D. Annett (sent by email)
Maple Ridge, B.C.
Easter Sunday, 2002
Note: For a complete account of my ministry in Port Alberni, my railroading out of the United Church, and my involvement in the investigation into genocide in Canada, please consult my recently published biography, "Love and Death in the Valley", which is available from me c/o the e-mail address above.