Expert archaeological panel to return to Royal Vic project, judge rules

A large stone, turreted building looms behind fencing. A small Indigenous flag can be seen hanging from its side.
The Mohawk Mothers have regained the right to expert oversight of work at the Royal Vic site this week. Photo by Jules Bugiel.
Jules Bugiel - CKUT - MontrealQC | 23-11-2023
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The Mohawk Mothers won their first court victory this fall on Monday, when Quebec Superior Court Justice Gregory Moore ruled that an expert archaeological panel must return to the Royal Victoria Hospital site.

The panel is part of an April 2023 settlement agreement between the Mohawk Mothers and McGill University and the Quebec Infrastructure Society (SQI), which are leading the Royal Vic redevelopment. The panel would oversee a search for unmarked graves at the site, which the Mohawk Mothers believe hold the bodies of Indigenous children. The hospital was once the site of the infamous MK-Ultra psychological experiments.

That panel, made up of subject-area experts, was dissolved over the summer by McGill – before that search was concluded. The experts had given guidance in advance, but were unable to assess the search process and findings, nor monitor ongoing findings at the site. The Mohawk Mothers argued that this violated the settlement agreement at an October court date.

McGill Provost Christopher Manfredi has previously said that "since concluding the agreement, McGill has gone beyond its legal and contractual obligations and has worked with the SQI to respect the wishes of the Mohawk Mothers as fully as possible in carrying out the work." Following Monday's judgment, he released a statement promising the university will "study the decision and its implications more fully in the days to come."

CKUT heard from Philippe Blouin, an anthropology PhD student who has been accompanying the Mohawk Mothers in their legal battle, about the significance of Justice Moore's decision.

Listen to the full interview below: