MNN. August 4th, 2023. Major developments on search for unmarked graves at Royal Victoria Hospital RVH.
The Kahnistensera (Mohawk Mothers) are deeply concerned about the recent actions of McGill University and the Société Québécoise des Infrastructures’ (SQI) in the archaeological search for unmarked burials at the New Vic site. Despite publicly stating their support for the court-ordered process and commitment to reconciliation, McGill and SQI have unilaterally terminated the panel’s Que. ordered mandate. They also did not follow through on several recommendations in the Settlement Agreement signed in April 2023 and homologated in the Quebec Superior Court.
McGill and SQI recently rejected recommendations from the Panel to include a forensics expert to oversee the ‘chain of custody’ of artifacts, an essential part of a credible investigation. The Settlement Agreement was part of an injunction won by the Mohawk Mothers in October 2022. The New Vic construction project was halted in order to allow for an “Indigenous-led” investigation of unmarked graves. This process is constantly being interfered with by the SQI and McGill to try to control the whole process, reducing the role of Indigenous people to performing ceremonies on the site.
One panel member resigned during these troubling developments. Mohawk Mother Kahentinetha declared the turn of events “deplorable”. Mohawk Mother Kwetiio stated that “it is very unfortunate that the SQI, as a Quebec public institution, appears to prefer to waste public funds and time to keep Indigenous elders from revealing the truth about the fate of their children. We wanted an open dialogue to resolve the disagreements over implementing the Settlement Agreement. It is unacceptable that Quebec and McGill forcefully violate a court-ordered ‘indigenous lead’ search for the unmarked graves of potential victims of their institutions.”
False Narratives: On August 3rd, 2023, McGill University and the SQI published newsletters disclosing part of the results of a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey performed by Geoscan on July 24, 2023, which we received the day before on August 2nd, 2023. See attached newsletters. The SQI and McGill did not consult the Kahnistensera (Mohawk Mothers) before making it public. These newsletters contain misleading information that must be corrected.
The SQI’s newsletter suggests that “to date, no burials have been found”, not mentioning the search dogs which detected the scent of human remains. The recent excavation failed to mention the discovery of important evidence found in the soil excavated until now, including a young woman’s dress and an old pair of children’s leather shoes. They fail to mention the verbal attack last week of Mohawk cultural monitors and elders on the site, who were evicted and verbally aggressed by unidentified security guards under the direction of the SQI. Someone’s phone was illegally grabbed and the video content was erased. In the GPR report, the SQI and McGill’s newsletters mislead the public into believing that only nine (9) anomalies were found in the small “priority zone”, where construction work was started. A far greater number of “unknown” targets were detected by the GPR team, who suggest that, “It is possible that some of the unknown features may be unmarked graves, particularly in the case of older burials without coffins and also possibly child-size graves.”
ANNEXES: McGill University’s newsletter: “Dear members of the McGill community. Following up on the last update I provided about the work being conducted on the former Royal Victoria Hospital site, ground penetrating radar work was performed in priority areas of the site, as established by the Settlement Agreement, a legally binding agreement we entered into last April with the Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera, also known as the Mohawk Mothers, and the Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI), which is responsible for redeveloping the site. The company conducting the work stated in a report summarizing its findings that no “likely” grave-type features were identified across the site. However, “[i]n total, nine (9) geophysical signatures were identified across the site that display attributes allowing us to categorize them as “potential” grave type features.” These nine signatures are all outside the McGill project zone, which accounts for about 15 percent of the entire site. The SQI indicated it will follow the recommendation of the Panel of expert archeologists, agreed to by all three parties, to investigate the nine areas manually. This technique will verify the results of the ground penetrating radar, which cannot, on its own, confirm the presence of graves. All archeological work is being conducted in the presence of Cultural Monitors named by the Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera to ensure appropriate Indigenous protocols and ceremonies are respected. Meanwhile, discussions continue between the SQI, the Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera and the Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites, with respect to security on the site. This follows a reprehensible act last week, in which offensive remarks were directed at the Cultural Monitors as they were inappropriately asked to leave the site by a security guard. The SQI, which is responsible for security on the site, immediately condemned the action and dealt with the incident. Since then, discussions have been taking place to reach an agreement among the parties to put on additional security measures so that the archeological work at the site may resume as soon as possible. We have been and will continue to work in a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect with the SQI and the Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera that adheres to and respects the Settlement Agreement we all entered into. We will continue to keep you updated of significant events as they occur.
Sincerely, Christopher Manfredi, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
LIKE PINK FLOYD, WE SHOULD ALL BE ASKING OUR MOTHER, “MOM. WHAT ABOUT IT?”
Mother do you think they’ll drop the bomb
Mother do you think they’ll like the song
Mother do you think they’ll try to break my balls
Ooooh aah, Mother should I build a wall
Mother should I run for president
Mother should I trust the government
Mother will they put me in the firing line
Ooooh aah, is it just a waste of time
Hush now baby don’t you cry
Mama’s gonna make all of your Nightmares come true Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you Mama’s gonna keep you right here Under her wing She won’t let you fly but she might let you sing Mama will keep baby cozy and warm
Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe Of course, Mama’s gonna help build the wall
Mother do think she’s good enough for me
Mother do think she’s dangerous to me
Mother will she tear your little boy apart
Oooh aah, mother will she break my heart
Hush now baby, baby don’t you cry
Mama’s gonna check out all your girlfriends for you Mama won’t let anyone dirty get through Mama’s gonna wait up till you come in Mama will always find out where You’ve been Mamma’s gonna keep baby healthy and clean Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe You’ll always be a baby to me