An 8-part series that tells the stories of four students: three who survived and one who didn’t. They attended one of Canada’s most notorious residential schools – where unsolved deaths, abuse, and lies haunt the community and the survivors to this day. Hosted by Duncan McCue.
Introducing: Kuper Island
Long after the Kuper Island Residential School was torn down, the survivors are still haunted by what happened there. Investigative reporter Duncan McCue exposes buried police investigations, confronts perpetrators of abuse and witnesses a community trying to rebuild — literally on top of the old school’s ruins and the unmarked graves of Indigenous children. Episodes release Tuesdays, starting May 17.
E1: A School They Called Alcatraz
Duncan McCue travels to Penelakut, an island off the coast of B.C., and the site of the Kuper Island Residential School. The community has torn down the reviled building, but the dark memories of what happened at the nearly-century old institution linger. Survivors James and Tony Charlie give a tour of their old school grounds, and we look into the mystery of what happened to one boy, Richard Thomas, who did not make it out alive.
E2: Nights on the Boys’ Side
What was it like to be a student at one of the most notorious residential schools in Canada? Survivors James and Tony Charlie share their own account of recurring sexual abuse at the hands of their teachers, starting with a fateful trip to Montreal's Expo '67. Their stories speak to how abuse rotted all facets of school life — and how at Kuper Island, no child was spared.
E3: Sink or Swim
Survivor Belvie Brebber tells us about her five years at Kuper Island Residential School, a time filled with fear, cruelty and sexual violence. Belvie makes it out alive, but her younger brother Richard Thomas does not. She describes a terrible phone call that shattered her family forever, and why she never believed the school's story that her beloved brother died by suicide.
E4: What happened to Richard?
Richard Thomas was smart, kind and well-loved. He was having no problems in school and he wanted to go further in education. Then inexplicably, days before his graduation, he’s found dead in the Kuper Island school gym. His death was ruled a suicide — with no further questions as to why. We piece together a portrait of the teenager through his own writings, and find an old coroner’s report that raises more questions than answers about how Thomas died.
E5: Feeding the Dead
An archaeologist uses the stories of survivors and a ground-penetrating radar machine to pinpoint where children who died at the Kuper Island school were buried, sometimes in places where no one ever wanted them to be found. And we explore how the Hul'qumi'num people honour their ancestral dead, and why this work is important when it comes to unsettled spirits and unmarked graves.
Evil Swept Under the Mat
The stories of widespread child abuse in the Catholic Church just keep on coming. This a tragic investigation into the Kuper Island Residential School by Duncan McCue who reports the uncovering of horrific events with sympathy and empathy. He has dug out the facts but delivers these findings with decency and respect to the family members who have spent so many years not knowing the truth of what happened. This is an excellent podcast which draws you into the story and is narrated so well by Duncan McCue. I thoroughly recommend it.
Best thing since David Ridgen!
Didn’t think anyone could top David Ridgen but the sensitivity and honesty Duncan demonstrates in this podcast is honestly beautiful. Also, a topic that truly deserves more attention.
Grateful for Duncan McCue
McCue is a very talented broadcaster. There aren’t many who’d have both the skill to tell this complex story in a compelling way and the compassion to interview survivors with the sensitivity and respect they deserve. Powerful work.