The Mohawk Mothers filed an emergency motion in court to request that the excavation work be stopped at the site of the former Royal Victoria Hospital. They believe that McGill University and the Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI) did not respect the agreement concluded by the three parties.
The Mohawk Mothers (kanien’kehá:ka kahnistensera) want excavations to be conducted at the site of the old hospital. They suspect that there are unmarked graves of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children there, victims of a series of psychiatric experiments such as electroshock and lobotomies during the 1950s and 1960s.
In November 2022, the women of Kahnawake, representing themselves, were able to put the project worth more than $800 million to SQI and McGill University on hold.
This legal battle led to an agreement between the three parties, appointing the Mohawk Mothers as leaders in the search for possible graves. It is this agreement that the Mohawk Mothers accuse SQI and McGill of not honoring.
(We are) shocked and disappointed that McGill University and the Société québécoise des infrastructures continued (the work) on September 11 by drilling several holes marking the start of a series of excavations.they said in a press release.
is the only technique required by the Archaeologist Panel for this sector and therefore it is respectedSQI defends itself.
On the same day, McGill University issued a message to all its staff and students saying that an investigation of the site where the work was to begin revealed no signs of graves.
In this letter, of which Native Spaces has a copy, Christopher Manfredi, executive vice-principal of McGill, recalls
that this work was carried out in accordance with the recommendations of an independent panel of archaeologists and in full compliance with the settlement agreement concluded in April between McGill University, the Société québécoise des infrastructures, the Kanien’keha that group :ka Kahnistensera (or Mohawk Mothers) and other parts. I have already confirmed that no traces of human remains or unidentified burials have been found during this phase of the research..
The Mohawk Mothers see these developments as
great challenges, because the investigation is far from over and McGill has no proof of the existence or non-existence of the graves.
By email, SQI reacted by indicating that it wanted to
correct the various allegations of the Mohawk Mothers.
He also remembered that the panel of archaeologists
completed his termbut that
it was not dismantled, contrary to the allegations of the Mohawks.
Kahnistensera court records show that McGill and the SQI refused to follow many recommendations from the archaeologists, such as sifting the soil from the places where the possible body anomalies were located.redefine the Mohawk Mothers.
They asserted that SQI would have refused to share the georadar data with the Canadian Archaeological Association and the group of experts themselves. SQI and McGill University also, according to them, refused to allow search dogs to return to the site.
SQI has not responded to these accusations.
I don’t understand how they act like this when a court decision establishes that this is a project led by Indigenous peopleadded Kwetiio, a Mohawk mother.
In his note to employees and students, the executive vice-principal of McGill University said the same
the Mohawk Mothers recently announced that their team and their indigenous cultural caregivers will not be on site to begin this new phase of work, and that is their right.
However, the Mohawk Mothers explained that they felt threatened since a fight with a security guard at SQI and that.
they didn’t even give us safety training for working in construction areas and we didn’t have the right equipment. The settlement agreement says we have to be there.
can go to the site at any time to monitor archaeological work or protocols regarding ceremoniesassured SQI on its part.
Security measures are in place to protect access to the area of interest as well as the partners present on the site.he said again.
The hearing to stop the excavation work will take place on September 16, at the Montreal courthouse.