‘Where did they go?’: No human remains found on Charles Camsell Hospital grounds

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EDMONTON – 

Nothing has been found after two more days of searching for unmarked graves at the site of a former “Indian hospital” in central Edmonton.

Crews completed the last of 34 excavations on the Charles Camsell Hospital grounds Friday – after ground-penetrating radar pointed to “anomalies” under the soil.

“We’re happy that nothing has been found here to date,” Papaschase Elder Fernie Marty said.

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“No bodies, no bones of any kind, no human remains, so that’s a good thing. Now to find where the bodies did go to. Where did they go?”

Marty said he still believes there are unmarked graves somewhere in or around Edmonton.

He bases that off of stories he’s heard about people disappearing and accounts from former staff members he’s spoken to directly about things that happened in the hospital.

“A lot of evil stuff went on here. This place, in my opinion, should have been burned to the ground or blown up,” he said.

“You couldn’t give me a place to live here. I wouldn’t live here. Too much horror went on.”

The hospital building is now being converted to condos, owned by local architect Gene Dub.

Dub paid more than $200,000 for the search.

“I think we owe it to those families to search these grounds,” Dub said. “To find, truthfully whether they’re here.”

“His heart is in a good place,” Marty said of Dub, adding plans to add a commemorative stone to the property were appreciated by him and other Elders.

Starting in the 1930s, 31 hospitals were built in Canada with the goal of treating tuberculosis in Indigenous people – but according to the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at the University of British Columbia, the hospitals were understaffed and used “experimental treatment” on their patients.

A class-action lawsuit brought forth in 2018 alleges patients suffered sexual and physical abuse, including forced sterilization, at these hospitals.

The Indigenous groups involved in the Camsell search said they will continue to seek answers – and possibly search other sites in the Edmonton area.

With files from CTV National News’ Bill Fortier

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