Mystery Files

The Mystery of Nostra Culpa

The clues: An old immigration document with the name Arlene Chan written on the back, an old photo of a man named Harnam Singh Sohi with a phone number written on it, a picture of the Mohawk Institute Residential School with a photo of a young boy clipped to it The file label: "Nostra Culpa" The investigation: This file label is a real puzzler. After a quick Internet search, the kids find out "Nostra Culpa" means "our fault" in Latin. But whose fault? To find out, E.B. tracks down Arlene Chan, the daughter of the man on the immigration certificate. He discovers that a long time ago, Chinese immigrants to Canada had to pay a special tax called a head tax to discourage them from living here. Years later, the Canadian government formally apologized for the Chinese head tax. Kyla video-chats with the great granddaughter of Harnam Singh. She finds out that Singh tried to immigrate to Canada in 1914 aboard a ship called the Komagata Maru. The ship, mostly filled with Punjabi immigrants, was turned away at the Vancouver port after a 2-month standoff because of a racist anti-immigration law. Just recently, the Canadian government offered an apology for the incident. Kyla and E.B. are starting to see a pattern. E.B. visits the Mohawk Institute Residential School and meets the tour guide Geronimo. There he discovers the horrible life many First Nations kids were forced to lead in schools like this one. As for the photo of the boy on the clue, it was a childhood photo of Geronimo when he attended this very school! Another formal apology was offered by the government years after the last of these schools closed. Mystery solved: The kids deduce that Hermione meant all these racist laws were the government's fault. And since people voted for those governments, technically it was our fault, "Nostra Culpa", too. They also discover that it is important to learn from past mistakes.