False posts claim queen convicted over missing Indigenous children

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Social media posts circulating after the death of Queen Elizabeth II claim she was found guilty of killing indigenous children in Western Canada in 1964. This is false; the late monarch's official schedule did not place her in British Columbia when the alleged crime took place, and the institution said to have convicted her has no legitimate judicial authority.

"Just a reminder that the queen was found guilty of the murder of 10 canadian Indigenous children she and prince Philip took on a 'picnic' to the woods once day while visiting and they were never seen again," says a September 8, 2022 tweet that attracted thousands of interactions.

Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral, her rural Scotland retreat, the same day at age 96. Her death inspired numerous false claims on social media.

Screenshot of a tweet taken September 13, 2022

Some Facebook posts specify that the conviction was issued in 2013 by the "International Common Law Court of Justice in Brussels" -- not to be confused with the International Criminal Court (ICC), an international tribunal based in the Netherlands.

"After nearly a year of litigation, Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Phillip, were found guilty in the disappearance of ten native children from the Catholic-run Kamloops residential school in British Columbia," says text in a September 9 Facebook post. "Grieving parents haven't seen their children since they left for a picnic with the Royal couple on Oct. 10 1964."

However, the posts are inaccurate.

Court not recognized

The court cited in the posts has no power to hand down convictions, independent experts previously told AFP. 

"The International Common Law Court of Justice is not a recognized international court, and has no authority in Canada," said Ian McLeod, a spokesman for the Department of Justice Canada.

The International Common Law Court of Justice has previously spread misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines and regulations. Its self-described "chief adviser," Kevin Annett, is a former pastor in the United Church who was removed from the ministry in 1997. 

Visit to Kamloops

The claim that Queen Elizabeth II was responsible for the disappearance of 10 Indigenous children in Western Canada in 1964 is not new. Fact-checking organization Snopes traced it back to 2010.

The rumor recirculated after the unmarked graves of 215 children were found on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia in May 2021.

First Nations peoples have sought a royal apology over the crown's role in Canada's residential school program. The schools were set up more than a century ago to assimilate Indigenous peoples, who were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers who stripped them of their culture and language.

During a May 2022 visit, then-Prince Charles did not offer a formal apology, but emphasized the importance of acknowledging Canada's past abuses of its Indigenous community and described reconciliation as "vital."

AFP found no evidence that the royals visited the Kamloops residential school in 1964, as claimed in the posts.

The Canadian Research and Mapping Association said the queen visited Kamloops during her 1959 tour. The Canadian government also recorded a visit to the city by Queen Elizabeth II in March 1983 -- after the residential school had closed.

The queen did visit Canada in 1964, but she remained in Eastern provinces.

This screenshot taken September 12, 2022 shows the Canadian government's record of royal tours

This claim has also been fact-checked by Full Fact in the UK.

AFP has fact-checked other false and misleading claims about the queen here, here and here.