Historical remains discovered in Brantford possibly connected to Mohawk Institute Residential School

BRANTFORD — The newly created Task Force charged with investigating the deaths of children at the Mohawk Institute has received its first case.

The investigation of an unmarked burial found in August 2020 near Glenwood Drive in Brantford, Ontario, is now being reviewed to determine if it may be associated with the Mohawk Institute. Given the close proximity of the burial to the lands known to be used by the Mohawk Institute and the receipt of a new report suggesting the person was an adolescent at the time of their death, this matter has been transferred to the Task Force looking into the deaths of children at the former residential school. The Task Force includes both police service membership and representatives from Ontario’s death investigation system. This decision was made in close consultation with Survivors and the Survivors’ Secretariat.

“This is a child that has been found. A full and proper death investigation is required to determine who this child is and how they came to be buried in this location. This child deserves respect; they need a name and we need to remember they were a child and their family needs to know what happened.” said Roberta Hill, Survivor of the Mohawk Institute.

“We must honour and respect the spirit of this child so this move to a death and potential criminal investigation through the coroner’s office and the Task Force is very important,” said Dr. Beverly Jacobs, Indigenous Human Rights Monitor, Survivors’ Secretariat. “The human rights violations that have occurred to residential school children must give rise to reparations and justice. This first investigation is just the beginning.”

“The Office of the Chief Coroner is working with experts currently engaged with the burial site in Brantford and will apply a principled, respectful and thorough investigation to try to find answers regarding who this young person is, why and how they came to be at this site,” said Dr. Dirk Huyer, Chief Coroner for Ontario.

The Mohawk Institute was the first and longest running Indian Residential School in Canada. Indigenous children from more than 20 First Nations were impacted during the 136 years the Mohawk Institute was in operation. The lands associated with the Institute exceed 500 acres and are the focus of work led by the Survivors’ Secretariat.

The Survivors’ Secretariat is a Survivor-led initiative established in 2021. The Secretariat coordinates protocols and processes associated with death investigations and facilitates the gathering of community and Survivor statements as they work to document and share the truth about what happened at the Mohawk Institute during its 136 years of operation. The Police Task Force was created in 2021 to investigate the deaths of children who died while attending the Mohawk Institute; its work is overseen by the Survivors’ Secretariat.

If you need support or counselling:

Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. Experienced helpline counsellors, many of whom are Indigenous, can find wellness supports available in your area. You can reach this help line at: 1-855-242-3310 toll-free, 24/7.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.

The Indigenous Victim Services at Six Nations Line (1-866-964-5920). After hours & weekends: 1-866-445-2204. Help is available to people living in Brantford, Hamilton or the Six Nations community.

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