HISTORIC DEAL IN SEARCH OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN
On April 20, 2023, the Quebec Superior Court homologated (approved) a historic Settlement Agreement in the proceedings of Kahentinetha et al. v Société Québécoise des Infrastructures et al.
The Settlement Agreement sets out the terms for an archaeological investigation of potential unmarked graves of Indigenous children at the site of the Royal Victoria Hospital, which was undergoing an $850-million redevelopment until a historic injunction on October 27, 2022 paused all construction until an archaeological plan could be made “in the spirit of reconciliation.”
The Plaintiffs in the action, the Kanien’kehá:ka Kahnistensera (Mohawk Mothers), spearheaded the effort to reach the Settlement Agreement, which is the first of its kind in Canada and sets a precedent for how Indigenous Peoples can use their own laws in order to protect themselves.
As an Intervenor in the proceedings, the Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools, Kimberly R. Murray (“Special Interlocutor Murray”) played a key role, working with the parties and the Court to ensure that any investigation undertaken to search for unmarked graves and burial sites is respectful of Indigenous laws and protocols, while at the same time, abiding by the best practices in archaeology.
Special Interlocutor Murray had the following to say about the Settlement Agreement:
“The Settlement Agreement represents concrete action by all parties, which respects the concerns of the Kanien’kehá:ka Kahnistensera (Mohawk Mothers). The terms are given the force of a court order to investigate potential unmarked burials through a transparent process, guided by experts with the appropriate experience, and following the guidelines of the best practices in archaeology, while being respectful of Indigenous laws, customs and protocols.”
Falconers LLP is honoured to act as legal counsel to the Special Interlocutor, along with Don Worme KC.
Homologated (Approved) Settlement Agreement dated April 6, 2023
CBC News (April 20, 2023) – “Archaeological digs to take place at old Royal Vic site after Kanien’kehá:ka elders strike deal”
Amanda Jelowicki, Global News (April 20, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers relieved as search begins for potential unmarked graves at former Montreal hospital”
Gareth Madoc-Jones, City News Montreal (April 20, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers, McGill reach agreement to search former Montreal hospital for possible unmarked graves”
Global News (April 20, 2023) – “Legal victory for Mohawk Mothers in Montreal as deal reached to search for remains”
CNW Group (April 20, 2023) – “Independent Special Interlocutor encouraged by historic Settlement Agreement initiating investigation into potential unmarked graves and burials at site of the Royal Victoria Hospital and McGill University”
APTN (April 21, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers reach agreement to search for unmarked graves”
https://falconers.ca/independent-special-interlocutor-kimberly-r-murray-seeks-to-intervene-to-protect-missing-children/ – September 7, 2022