ontario news watch

Remains of two Innu children exhumed in Quebec as families question who they buried

MONTREAL — The remains of two Innu children have been exhumed from a Quebec cemetery to help give closure to families who have long-standing questions about the identities of the bodies they buried in 1970.

A group helping the families of the two children says the exhumations took place last week in Pessamit, Que., around 305 kilometres northeast of Quebec City. 

The two infant boys died within days of each other at a Baie-Comeau, Que., hospital in May 1970.

In both cases, the child’s parents, who weren’t able to accompany their son to the hospital, were given a casket and told not to open it. 

The group helping the parents, called Association des families Awacak, says the boys’ families have for years questioned whether they were given the bodies of their children to bury.

The remains have been sent to Quebec’s forensic laboratory in Montreal for DNA identification.

The exhumations were the first authorized under a 2021 Quebec law intended to help Indigenous families learn more about the deaths and disappearances of their children in Quebec health-care and social service institutions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 6, 2023.

The Canadian Press