McGill/SQI found in breach of Court ordered Settlement for Firing Expert Panel at Royal Vic Redevelopment

On November 20, 2023, the Quebec Superior Court found that McGill University and Quebec’s public infrastructure society (the SQI) had breached the court ordered Settlement signed with Indigenous representatives the Mohawk Mothers. The Settlement Agreement mandated that a proper investigation was commenced for potential unmarked graves and burial sites at the redevelopment site of Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital.

Kimberly Murray, the Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools (“the Independent Special Interlocutor”) intervened in court proceedings in Montreal, Quebec on October 27, 2023, to support the Mohawk Mothers. The Mohawk Mothers challenged the Defendants, McGill and the SQI for their breach of the landmark settlement agreement.

The Independent Special Interlocutor, represented by Julian Falconer and Mitchell Goldenberg of Falconers LLP, sought, and was granted intervenor status in the proceedings in the Fall of 2022.

The decision of Justice Moore rejected McGill and the SQI’s attempt to take control of the investigation into unmarked graves and burial sites, and instead reinstated the independent Expert Panel of archaeologists that was fired by the Defendants in August of this year.

The Decision endorsed archaeological best practices and the importance of an Indigenous-led investigation into potential graves on the Royal Victoria Hospital redevelopment site, which is currently being searched with ground-penetrating radar, trained human remains detection dogs, and additional methods.

In his decision, Justice Moore stated that the “delay and costs of the overall project cannot justify the SQI’s and McGill’s unilateral reduction of their obligations under the settlement agreement, especially when doing so will cause irreparable harm to the plaintiffs.”


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