Mohawk Mothers and Duplessis orphans raise concerns over possible remains under SAQ warehouse site – Montreal

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  • February 12, 2024

It was a bittersweet reunion as two groups, who say they have a painful connection to a spot beside an SAQ warehouse in east-end Montreal, met for a press conference next to the location.
“We’re looking for our children and they are looking for the people that they lived with,” explained Kwe’ti:ios of the Bear Clan, a member of the Mohawk Mothers.Her group, as well as representatives of the Duplessis orphans, said they want a full investigation done to determine whether the land on which the provincial liquor board wants to build an automation centre has human remains.“An archeological dig is imperative,” Kwe’ti:ios insisted.The land was an informal cemetery for orphans who were under the care of the former Catholic-run Saint-Jean-de-Dieu hospital. According to the groups, many of the children, like the Duplesis orphans and Indigenous kids, were wrongly diagnosed with mental illness and were interred at the site after death. Both groups pointed out that bones have been found on site. Story continues below advertisement

“In 1967 there was a first exhumation of the cemetery,” said Philippe Blouin, an anthropologist working with the groups. “(Some) of the bodies were transported to the St. Francois cemetery.”

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He said more human remains were found in the ’70s after the SAQ acquired the land, and again in the ’90s.“Back in the ’90s and the ’70’s there were no ground-penetrating radars and the technology to determine the exact extent of the cemetery,” he pointed out.

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The groups are calling for an investigation before any more work is done “because there would be proof of maltreatment and medical experiments on these children,” Blouin said.According to SAQ CEO Jacques Farcy, they’ve stopped work on the site, possibly for a few weeks, “based on information we received that there could be still some graveyards under our fields.”Farcy also told Global News that the company is working on an action plan before making any decision on its next steps.The Duplessis orphans and the Mohawk Mothers said they are still waiting to hear from the SAQ, and the latter wants to supervise any archeological dig to ensure culturally appropriate steps are followed. 

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