THE death of William Coombs in a Vancouver hospital at the age of 58 in 2011 scarcely registered on the Richter scale of world events.
To people in the know, however, it represented the last chance to challenge the most famous couple on the planet about the disappearance of 10 of his friends.
Coombs was due to give evidence at a public session of the International Tribunal of Crimes of Church and State in September 2011.
Here is the testimony he would have given, based on a signed and witnessed declaration made in February 2010
‘I am an Interior Salish spirit dancer and am 58 years old. I live in Vancouver, Canada. I am a survivor of the Kamloops and Mission Indian residential schools, both run by the Roman Catholic church. I suffered terrible tortures there especially at the hands of Brother Murphy, who killed at least two children. I witnessed him throw a child off a three-story balcony to her death. He put me on a rack and broke some of my bones, in the Kamloop school basement, after I tried running away. I also saw him and another priest burying a child in the school orchard one night.
‘In October 1964 when I was 12 years old, I was an inmate at the Kamloops school and we were visited by the Queen of England and Prince Phillip. I remember it was strange because they came by themselves, no big fanfare or nothing. But I recognized them and the school principal told us it was the Queen and we all got given new clothes and good food for the first time in months the day before she arrived.
‘The day the Queen got to the school, I was part of a group of kids that went on a picnic with her and her husband and some of the priests, down to a meadow near Dead Man’s Creek. I remember it was weird because we all had to bend down and kiss her foot, a white laced boot. After a while, I saw the Queen leave the picnic with ten children from the school, and those kids never returned. We never heard anything more about them and never met them again even when we were older. They were all from around there but they all vanished.
The group that disappeared was seven boys and three girls, in age from six to fourteen years old. They were all from the smart group in class. Two of the boys were brothers and they were Metis from Quesnel. Their last name was Arnuse or Arnold. I don’t remember the others, just an occasional first name like Cecilia and there was an Edward. What happened was also witnessed by my friend George Adolph, who was 11 years old at the time and a student there too. But he’s dead now.’
The Rev Kevin Annett believes that Coombs died of foul play and that his murder was arranged to prevent him speaking out about the child abductions and other crimes of murder and torture he witnessed at Catholic Indian residential schools in Canada.