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No remains uncovered at former Camsell Hospital site

·2 min read
Excavation crews investigated the site of the former Camsell Hospital on Thursday and Friday this week. (Stephen Cook/CBC - image credit)
Excavation crews investigated the site of the former Camsell Hospital on Thursday and Friday this week. (Stephen Cook/CBC - image credit)

Crews wrapped up the search for unmarked graves at the site of the former Camsell Hospital on Friday after no human remains were found.

The facility was used to treat Indigenous people with tuberculosis for decades and some believed former patients may have been buried on the grounds. The site located at 128th Street and 114th Avenue has been slated for the construction of residential properties.

Thirteen spots flagged by ground-penetrating radar were dug up earlier this summer. Over the past two days another 21 such anomalies were uncovered but only found debris.

No further searches of the site are planned.

Chief Calvin Bruneau of the Papaschase First Nation said he has mixed feelings about the results. He said there are lingering concerns given all the accounts of people being buried at the site.

"What happened to them? That's something there that is a big question for me, if they were removed and reburied somewhere else."

Bruneau said he's also thinking about all the stories he's heard over the years of Edmonton developments ignoring remains in decades previous.

"The problem is, nobody wants to talk — either past employees that are aware of this going on or past developers, builders, who know something and burials being impacted.

"But it's all hushed up."

The Papaschase First Nation is still searching for a burial site somewhere near Blackmud Creek in south Edmonton.

The Camsell search was funded by the property's developer. Architect Gene Dub told reporters Thursday he was moved to act by the discovery of unmarked burial sites at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Indigenous people from across the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta were sent to what was then called the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital. It started accepting patients in 1945 when it was run by the federal government. The hospital was eventually transferred to the province and closed in 1996.

There are reports of physical, mental and sexual abuse, accounts of forced sterilization, shock therapy and medical experimentation.

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