At AGSEM’s Fall semester General Assembly on November 16th 2023, members passed, by unanimous vote, a motion in favour of solidarity with the Mohawk Mothers (Kahnistensera) in their legal fight against McGill’s attempts to redevelop the site of the former Royal Victoria Hospital without concern for evidence of potential unmarked Indigenous graves on that land. The full text of the motion is pasted below.
On December 20th, 2023, the Provost of McGill University, Christopher Manfredi, once again made use of the university-wide listserv to reinforce McGill’s narrative of their handling of the search for unmarked graves on the New Vic construction project. Leveraging their sizable legal and public relations teams, McGill continues to insist that they have not breached the settlement that they previously reached, despite evidence to the contrary.
The Kahnistensera and the Superior Court of Quebec agree that McGill has been violating elements of the settlement. The November 20th ruling states that McGill and the Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI) has incorrectly determined that the mandate of the archaeological panel was complete and that McGill and the SQI are not following the recommendation of said panel as they are legally bound to.
In Manfredi’s December 20th email, the Provost states that McGill, like the Kahnistensera, wants to determine whether there are unmarked graves on the New Vic site. However, the words of McGill’s lawyers in the November 20th ruling underscore McGill’s true priorities:
“The SQl and McGill are striving to complete the excavation and demolition work
so that the New Vic project will be finished by the end of 2028. They add that any delay
will compromise that objective and will increase the project’s costs. Every month of delay
will increase costs by $2M and cause an exponential impact on the cost of the overall
McGill does not want to cooperate with this archaeological investigation, as their actions have repeatedly demonstrated. McGill wants to proceed with construction as quickly as possible while maintaining the public appearance of being reasonable and compassionate. Their actions, instead, highlight their consistent tendency to weigh profit over people.
Also of note in Manfredi’s December 20th email, they do in fact confirm that McGill is using students’ tuition money and money from the Quebec government to finance this legal battle:
“6. That McGill has redirected fees paid by students to fund legal proceedings
University operations are supported by revenues from a number of sources, including student tuition and grants from the Quebec Government. McGill did not initiate the matter that has been brought before the courts. Rather, McGill is defending itself.”
This is in fact an admission that our tuition fees are funding ongoing legal proceedings.
AGSEM will continue to stand with the Kahnistensera in this extensive fight. We applaud the Kahnistensera for their continued strength in the face of McGill’s atrocious actions. We stand with our members who do not want their tuition and taxes being used to finance this legal battle.
We encourage our members to sign our open letter in opposition to McGill using our money to attack the Kahnistensera. We also encourage our members (and supporters) to sign the Kahnistensera’s change.org petition and donate to their legal fund.
AGSEM November 16th Fall General Assembly Motion in Support of the Kahnistensera:
WHEREAS McGill has a $700 million construction plan entitled the “New Vic Project,” with the goal of redeveloping the former site of the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH), adjacent to the Allan Memorial Institute.
WHEREAS all of the land McGill plans to redevelop is on unceded Mohawk territory.
WHEREAS the Mohawk Mothers or Kahnistensera have been engaged in legal battles with McGill and the Societé quebecoise des infrastructures (SQI) since 2015 in an attempt to allow for a thorough and adequate investigation of the RVH site with the goal of detecting the remains of Indigenous victims of MK ULTRA.
WHEREAS unethical experiments involving human mind control were conducted at the Allan Memorial Institute, affiliated with McGill University, as part of the CIA-funded project MK-ULTRA from the 1940s through the 1960s. Despite this being public knowledge, McGill has never publicly acknowledged nor apologized for their participation in this program.
WHEREAS Indigenous children were known victims of this so-called research, as per archival evidence, testimony from witnesses, and at least one firsthand account.
WHEREAS in October 2022, the Kahnistensera received an injunction from the Superior Court of Québec halting all construction, and in April 2023, reached a court settlement with McGill and the SQI. This settlement required, among other specifications, an independent archaeological review, the consultation and participation of the Kahnistensera including Cultural Monitors to be allowed on site during the excavation, and that McGill be bound by the recommendations of the panel of experts.
WHEREAS delays to the New Vic Project threaten McGill’s budget and delay new revenue generated by an operational New Vic site, and it is therefore in McGill’s financial interest to proceed with construction immediately.
WHEREAS McGill has, since July 2023, sent eight emails from the office of the Provost, Christopher Manfredi, on the topic of the RVH, four of which have denied the existence of evidence of human remains on the site.
WHEREAS in August 2023, the Kahnistensera published a press release stating that McGill has violated tenets of the court-ordered settlement and, further, misled the public to believe that archaeological investigations suggest that there is no evidence of human remains on the RVH site including by concealing potential forensic evidence.
WHEREAS the power differential between McGill, an institution with a $2 billion endowment and $40 million dollars of annual revenue, and the Kahnistensera is colossal and McGill has demonstrated it will go to any lengths to move construction forward. Throughout their dealings with the Kahnistensera, McGill has relied on technicalities and legal loopholes to quash resistance and evade the requirements of the settlement agreement.
BIRT the AGSEM General Assembly stands with the Kahnistensera in their struggle for dignity, truth, and reconciliation.
BIFRT the AGSEM General Assembly mandates the Executive and Mobilization Committees to mobilize AGSEM members to participate in actions supporting the Kahnistensera according to their conscience, for example, through individual donations and by signing the petition.
BIFRT the AGSEM General Assembly approves a symbolic $250 CAD contribution to the Khanistensera / Mohawk Mothers, from the Mutual Aid Fund.