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Update – 11 October: Next Steps for Anti-Colonial Direct Actions Against McGill’s New Vic Project
The camp that was setup on October 10th against upcoming excavation work by McGill was evicted by police this morning. There is currently excavation equipment on site, fences are being erected, and work is planned to begin October 12th by the McGill-hired archeological firm Arkéos. Even though they are supposedly investigating Indigenous archeological remains, Arkéos has had no discussions with the Mohawk Mothers, and is not equipped to a forensic investigation for unmarked graves. Please send them as many phone calls, emails, and faxes as you can in the next 48 hours to let them know that this work should not be going ahead without the direct involvement of the Mohawk Mothers and that Arkéos should withdraw from the project.
Respect Kanien’kehà:ka sovereignty, support the search for unmarked graves
Follow our Twitter @stopthenewvic to find out how you can provide on the ground support
We are settler anarchists who have initiated an anti-colonial solidarity action to block the renovations of the former Royal Victoria Hospital, which McGill University has said they plan to begin working on in early October as part of their campus expansion project. We are disturbed but not surprised that McGill would insist on pushing ahead with this work despite concerns that it may destroy forensic evidence of unmarked graves in the area. McGill has already invested immensely in this campus expansion project, and the possible discovery of unmarked graves would be a financial loss and tarnish their pro-reconciliation public image. We are taking direct action to stop their renovation work before it covers up the truth of their own violent history.
We have started this action on October 10th, so-called Thankgiving Day in Canada, and Columbus Day in the US. Such holidays represent the ongoing colonial violence of the settler-colonial state. We believe that there can be no peace on these lands until the colonial states of Canada and the US are abolished. We give thanks to the Kanien’kehà:ka people, who after centuries of resistance to colonization, continue to fight to defend these lands. We give thanks to the Kanien’kehà:ka women who have done extensive research, made this information public, and taken action to address the problems with this New Vic renovation project.
The Kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera (Mohawk Mothers) are a group of women from the Mohawk communities of Kahnawake and Kanehsatake. Based on the kaia’nereh’ko:wa (the Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee confederacy), the kahnistensera are considered progenitors of the Kanienke’hà:ka nation, own and are the caretakers of the land and the soil, including Tiohtiá:ke (so called Montreal). They are declaring that McGill stop planned renovations of the former Royal Victoria Hospital, that there be an investigation of the area for unmarked graves, as well as further study of Indigenous archeological sites known to be in the area. The investigation would be to find bodies of victims of CIA and Canadian government funded MK-Ultra psychiatric torture experiments that took place in the 1950s and ’60s at the Allan Memorial Institute, which is directly adjacent to the Royal Victoria.
The kahnistensera refer to the testimony of survivors of the MK-Ultra experiments, who say there were also Indigenous children being brought to the Institute and experimented on at that time. In recent years, thousands of unmarked graves have been found using ground-penetrating radar on the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children. A forensic investigation of the grounds of the Allen Memorial and the Royal Victoria, supervised by the kahnistensera, could determine the truth about some of the terrible things that happened there. The planned renovations would risk destroying this evidence, and must be stopped before an investigation can happen.
In April 2022, the kahnistensera filed a legal claim to the Superior Court of Quebec to stop McGill and the Société Québécoise des Infrastructures (SQI) from proceeding with the renovations and the next date in this process is October 26th. As usual, it is very unlikely that the colonial courts will take the demands of the kahnistensera seriously and do anything to stop the colonial university and state from proceeding with their plans. That is why it is important for all of us who support Kanien’kehà:ka sovereignty on this land to organize ourselves in solidarity with the public calls of the kahnistensera against the renovations.
As settlers and anarchists, we attempt to act as accomplices in Indigenous-led fights to abolish the settler-colonial-imperial-capitalist state and insititutions, such as McGill. We also recognize that Kanien’kehà:ka sovereignty in this place goes beyond this current campaign. We support the kahnistensera’s broader vision of a university which has been renamed to not pay homage to a colonial slaveholder, has repaid its financial debts to the Haudenosaunee peoples, has stopped all military research, and is governed by the kahnistensera in accordance with the kaia’nereh’ko:wa.