Dear members of the McGill community,
As archeological work in an area of the former Royal Victoria Hospital site continues, I’m taking this opportunity to update you on the latest events related to the New Vic Project.
The site of the former Royal Victoria Hospital is being redeveloped. The Société Québécoise des Infrastructures (SQI) is responsible for the development of the site. A parcel of land, about 15 per cent of the site, will be subject to a long-term lease to McGill. The university has undertaken to redevelop that portion of the site, in the southeast corner, into a state-of-the-art research, teaching and learning hub dedicated to Sustainability Systems and Public Policy. McGill’s redevelopment plan is called the New Vic Project.
Last April, the SQI, the Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera, also known as the Mohawk Mothers, and McGill University entered into a legally binding agreement, which included the appointment, by the three parties, of a Panel of independent expert archeologists to assess and identify appropriate archeological techniques to use on different parts of the site to investigate potential unmarked graves. As part of the agreement, a student archeologist was appointed by the Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera to accompany the panel in its work.
The activities taking place on the site follow the steps detailed in that plan.
On June 9, Historic human remains detection dogs detected human scent on one distinct part of the site, outside McGill’s New Vic project site. This means the dogs detected a possibility of human remains. A full archeological investigation is underway across a 10-metre radius of the area, in accordance with the recommendations of the expert panel.
Ground penetrating radar work was then conducted between July 10-12 to the extent this technique was feasible in the area (i.e. where there were no obstacles, such as brush). Results of that work are expected to be shared with McGill by the end of the month.
Two Cultural Monitors, appointed by the Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera, are present at all times while this work is being performed. In addition, a security perimeter has been put up around this area by the SQI to ensure the safety and integrity of the site.
McGill will continue to work with the expert panel, as it has since the agreement was reached, to ensure that any ensuing steps are carried out responsibly and inline with their recommendations.
We will continue to keep you posted of any significant events as they occur.
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)