For the people I’ve worked with and the Elders who supervised the site investigations, I think this is bittersweet news: relief that no patients were buried on the grounds, and grief and confusion that there are still so many unanswered questions as to their final resting places.
This is certainly not where the story ends, but perhaps it is the closing of one chapter.
Heartfelt appreciation to the Indigenous Elders and communities and witnesses (like Andrea Jenkins and Lorelei Mullings) who spent so much time drawing attention to this site and ensuring these investigations happened in a good way. To the Indigenous scholars like Dr. Crystal Fraser and Dr. Kisha Supernant at the University of Alberta who have been working on researching and reviewing evidence. To activists like Melissa Cora and Miranda Jimmy who kept the pressure on and asked really hard questions. The Edmonton Heritage Council has also been trying to bring communities, researchers, and volunteers together through the 2016 Camsell Symposium and Indigenous Burial Group.
Thanks also to Gene Dub and his company for funding the site search, and realizing how important these steps are.
One thing that keeps coming up is that the Federal Government won’t help fund these investigations on former Indian Hospital sites because they are not Indian Residential Schools. But the two are intimately connected, with children being shuttled back and forth from the ‘Schools’ (where they often caught tuberculosis in the first place), to the hospitals.
Perhaps the class action lawsuit that got underway in 2018 will pressure the government to take on this responsibility.
Here’s a round-up of other news coverage this week: