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 was 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 per cent 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.
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)