Mohawk Mothers Go to Court Over Panel Dismissal

The Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera (also known as the Mohawk Mothers) was in Quebec Superior Court yesterday in an attempt to halt the recently started excavation of the old Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. The Mohawk Mothers brought an emergency motion as a result of the Defendants’ (McGill University and the Société Québécoise des Infrastructures (“SQI”)) unilateral decision to dismiss the Panel that was established in order to guide the archeological investigations of the Royal Victoria Hospital. A decision on this emergency motion, which was heard before Justice Gregory Moore, is expected in the coming days.

Yesterday, the Mohawk Mothers argued that the Defendants’ unilateral decision to disband the Panel puts the investigation of the site into jeopardy and that the security of the site is compromised without the existence of the Panel to make proper recommendations on process and next steps.

Julian Falconer and Mitch Goldenberg, counsel for Kimberly Murray, the Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools (“Special Interlocutor Murray”), also attended and made arguments that the dismissal of the Panel severely impacts the integrity of the investigation, as well as creates distrust amongst the Parties. Special Interlocutor Murray was granted conservatory intervenor status in this case in October 2022, based on the assistance her knowledge and expertise could provide to the Court and the Parties in this matter.

On October 27, 2022 Justice Gregory Moore ordered that all existing excavation stop and that there be no further re-development of the Royal Victoria Site, pending a proper archeological investigation to determine the potential existence of unmarked graves and burials of Indigenous children, as was the concern raised by the Mohawk Mothers in their original application. The Parties to this matter reached a Settlement Agreement that was rectified on April 20, 2023. A key feature of the rectified agreement was the creation of a Panel consisting of members with proper archeological experience and expertise to guide the investigation and provide recommendations on best practices and search techniques, as well as how those search techniques should be performed using what service providers.

The investigation has so far produced discoveries through GPR and the cadaver dogs that need further investigation, but McGill and the SQI commenced construction on September 11, 2023 without following the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

Related Documents:

Media Coverage: 

CTV News Montreal (Sept. 14, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers seek halt to excavation amid former Montreal hospital grave search”

Felicia Parrillo, Global News (Sept. 14, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers step up legal fight in search for unmarked graves at former Montreal hospital site”

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Toronto Star (Sept. 14, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers seek halt to excavation amid former Montreal hospital grave search”

Global News (Sept. 14, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers in court over excavation work at Royal Vic site”

Global News (Sept. 13, 2023) – “Anthropologist claims McGill, Quebec violating deal with Mohawk Mothers over Royal Vic site”

Alyssia Rubertucci, City News Montreal (Sept. 14, 2023) – “Motion to halt to excavation amid grave search at Montreal hospital”

Frédéric Tomesco, Montreal Gazette (Sept. 12, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers want to stop excavation work on site of former Royal Victoria Hospital”

Felisha Adam, City News Montreal (Aug. 31, 2023) – “‘Not in good faith’: Mohawk Mothers about search for unmarked graves at former Montreal hospital site”

City News Montreal (Aug. 15, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers feel pushed aside in the search for unmarked graves”

Emelia Fournier, APTN News (Aug. 4, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers say McGill University trying to ‘control’ process of search for unmarked graves”

Montreal Gazette (Jul. 4, 2023) – “Mohawk Mothers call for protection of sites with possible unmarked graves”

Previous Postings: – June 29, 2023 – April 20, 2023 – October 28, 2022 – September 7, 2022

Related Posts