Mohawk Mothers request emergency injunction on work at Royal Vic hospital site

A large stone, turreted building looms behind fencing. A small Indigenous flag can be seen hanging from its side.
The Mohawk Mothers want work at the Royal Victoria Hospital site halted. Photo by Jules Bugiel.
Jules Bugiel - CKUT - MontrealQC | 14-09-2023
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

The Kanien’kehá:ka Kahnistensera (Mohawk Mothers) are going to Quebec Superior Court this Thursday for an emergency motion to halt the redevelopment of the Royal Victoria Hospital site. 

This follows a previous injunction in October 2022 which stopped excavation at the site until a search for human remains and Indigenous artifacts was completed. The Mohawk Mothers say that in decades past, Indigenous children were taken to the hospital for medical experiments. 

On Monday, McGill Provost Christopher Manfredi released a statement to the McGill community saying this work had been completed.

“I can now confirm that this stage of the work has not produced any evidence of human remains or unmarked graves.” 

McGill University and the Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI) were mandated to include the Mohawk Mothers in an Indigenous-led process. But at a press conference outside the site on Tuesday, Kwetiio said McGill and the SQI have been withholding information from the group.

“It’s an ‘Indigenous-led’ investigation, but they’re taking control of all of the information that comes from this.”

She also argued that since the work's advisory panel has been dismissed, the archeological process and findings have not been subject to adequate oversight.

Meanwhile, McGill maintains that the university has been cooperating in the months since a settlement agreement was reached with the Mohawk Mothers in April.

In a Sept. 1 statement, Manfredi writes, “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.”

But Kahentinetha of the Bear Clan said that respect wasn’t shown. The project made headlines earlier this summer when security personnel were reportedly harassing the Mohawk Mothers’ cultural monitors at the site.

“Every time we turned around there was something that was being done to us.”

Listen to the full story below: