v.15.06.13

718 - TOM OJO - CANADA 1-403-885-2991
Search Copyright Ordering Home About Sign In Contact Us
The following article is excerpted from a report in support of a Human Rights Complaint against the City of Edmonton for wanton destruction of historic and aboriginal graves (graves before 1910) - which is not done by the city with other graves - in spite of 100 years of requests to treat such graves with the same concern and dignity. These graves include the children of one of the first traders in the area (b. 1770 - the oldest identified person buried in Alberta), the family of a governor of the Huson's Bay Company, prominent traders, the brother-in-law of explorer David Thompson, veterans and officers of the War of 1812, a leading Blackfoot Chief (who's father met Anthony Henday - first recorded White Man in Alberta), and other notable persons. PHOTO DOCUMENTARY OF HISTORIC ALBERTA GRAVES AND BURIALS; Heritage Consulting; J. Fromhold; 2009 copy online

Review of Reasonable Accomodation Requests to the City of Edmonton Regarding Historic and Aboriginal Burials

submitted to Alberta Human Rights Board December 2009 by J. Fromhold, M.A.

Table of Contents Introduction 111 St. Burial Aboriginal Burial Traditions Reasonable Accomodation Legislation Pertaining to Burials Summary Appendix Oral Information Sources

Traditional Burial Customs

Information covering the history and ethos of Cree burials has already been submitted to the HRB and are on file with them, and need not be appended here. This information is largely drawn from the files of Heritage Consulting (www.inewhistory.com), and can be found in their file www.inewhistory.com/powrbbs/bbsfiles/08 bbsfiles/datai/cre1EB.txt some background information can be found on their website at www.inewhistory.com/ross.html www.inewhistory.com/issues.html These files were compiled from an exhaustive review of the literature (300 page bibliography) and interview with elders (see appendix), most of whom were born in the period of 1880-1925.
CREE BURIAL PRACTICES - History and Ethos; Report prepared for the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission Copy available from Heritage Consulting $5.00

Appended are also statements submitted by the Iroquois and the Sioux. Historic burials in Alberta were done according to the "customs of the land". These "customs of the land" were fully accepted by the early missionaries as being as valid and equivalent burial customs as were their own. Neither Rev. Rundle or Fr. Thibeault, first missionaries in Alberta, nor Fr. Lacombe and Rev. John McDougall, historically the most prominent missionaries, had any issues in accepting the traditional buriaL customs as being as equally valid as Christian burials, and deserving the same respect.

Reasonable Accomodation

Over the past 100 years the City of Edmonton has been approached and encouraged many times to provide some Reasonable Accomodation in the way they treat historic burials. 1867 Fr. Petitot makes a painting of Edmonton showing cemeteries in the West Rossdale (Legislature) area. 1898 City of Edmonton approves the construction of bridge and roadways across known historic Cemetery locations. 1899 CAN/AB, Edmonton; Cemetery on Whyte Ave, Stathcona; coffins are often washed out of the ground in spring (Burns 2005:73). 1900 According to local tradition, the Rossdale area had Tree Burials, and that once these had deteriorated the bones were collected and re-interred. (See section of the history of Cree burials for this practice). 1901 Last known burial at the Rossdale Site, indicating that the City is fully aware of the site as a cemetery area. 1908 A Native family exhumed the body of their infant child at the Rossdale cemeteries site to prevent the burial from being desecrated. No official Complaint is filed, as it is illegal for aboriginals to lodge complaints against and level of government. 1912 Citizens voice concerns about potential destruction of graves located at the north end of the 105 St. bridge. Nothing is done to protect the graves. 1916 City maps still show cemeteries in the Rossdale, Henderson, Richie and Otaskewan area which were subsequently paved over or developed. Indicates that the City is fully aware of the historic cemeteries in the area but these cemeteries were never registered by the City of Edmonton to prevent them from receiving statutory protection. 1919 Burial mounds are still plainly visible on the Rossdale Flats. 1920 Last Sun Dance held on the Rossdale Flats. Sundances are held only on traditionally recognized sacred places. 1923 In 2008 the City of Edmonton suggests that burials were conducted in the Richie Cemetery area as late ast 1923, indicating that as late as this the City was still permitting burials in unregistered historic cemeteries. 1930 The story that graves do not exist in the Rossdale area begins to receive stories, and the data available from Heritage Consulting. 1999 Papaschase Band files an objection with the City of Edmonton over the treatment of the site and the burials, claiming that at least 31 can be identified as ancestral members of that band. 1999 The Energy Utilities Board approves large-scale development in the Rossdale Cemetery area - the EUB historically approves any and all applications for develpoment on historic cemeteries and aboriginal cultural, heritage and religious sites. 2000 Because of increasing opposition from the city and aboriginal communities, Minister of Alberta Community Development rescinds the EUB approval and forces EPCOR/City of Edmonton to conduct hearings into the developments at Rossdale. The development refusal was based on the destruction of a historic building, not on the basis of destruction of burials. 2000 More burials found in Rossdale. EPCOR and it's archaeological firm claim there there are no bodies or hardly any bodies to be found on the site. 2001 c. Independent research paper submitted by Rock Wells to the City of Edmonton re. the Rossdalel historic sites, citing the need for a more appropriate approach to dealing with burials in the area. 2001 Aboriginal activists continue to put pressure on the City to have the Rossdale site and burials treated in an appropriate manner. 2001 Archaeologists pronounce the Rossdale site as one of the most significant sites in Canada. 2001 After the Hearings aboriginal activists approach City Hall to halt development at EPCOR site. As a result meetings were commissioned to have representatives of the City of Edmonton and various stakeholders to discuss how best to deal with the burial ground. 2002 Submission by Gerald Delorme of the City of Pickering process regarding burials and a request for accommodation. 2002 Letter by the City of Edmonton Legal Department disclaiming any responsibility for historic burials because they are located on private property. 2003 Aboriginal Oral Histories Project conducts interviews with elders re. historic information on the Rossdale area. Elders point out significance of the site, the numerous burials at the site, and the need for proper treatment of these burials and remains. 2003 Oral traditions claim that burials are to be found in the Rossdale area all the way from the east end of the flats to the 109 St. area. 2003 City of Edmonton notified by Mr. G. Delorme that the 'Indian Gardens' area of south Edmonton (the old Otuskewan townsite on the Papaschase Reserve) is likely a cemetery containing aboriginal burials. The City rejects the possibility outright. 2003 The Province of Alberta Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Developoment, Community Development branch begins to establish an Aboriginal Protocol for Unregistered Graves in consultation with stakeholders, including the City of Edmonton. As of 2009 such protocols have not yet been established. 2004 Statement by Rock Wells that he is aware of discussions by the Edmonton City Council concerning the question of what to do about historic burials in the City of Edmonton. 2004 J. Fromhold, on behalf of the Mountain Cree Band (400 members) and Bobtail Band Descendants notifies the City of Edmonton of the objection of the Mountain Cree Band towards destruction of graves in the Rossdale Area. No response from the City of Edmonton. 2004 Letter by J. Fromhold on behalf of self and iNEW Development Society indicating that they would consider investing $1.5 million or more into a Rossdale Cultural Interpretive Center. No response from the City of Edmonton. 2004 City Council passes a resolution that the City commission a report "as to the best use, development guidelines that reference history, the district and a main entrance to the downtown" 2004 City of Edmonton initiates the Rossdale Historical Land Use Study. 2004 G. Delorme submits report to the City of Edmonton Rossdale Historical Land Use Study detailing the dumping of 30 or more skeletons in 1976 in the Terwilleger landfill and an unknown number at Beachmount. 2004 Submission by Saddle Lake First Nation outlining Saddle Lake First Nation interests in historic burials, submission of acceptable protocols for handling such burials, and request to implement a policy and protocol. No response from City of Edmonton. 2005 Brief "A Conceptual Look At Ft. Edmonton/Rossdale Flats" submitted to the City. 2005 Submission by Philip Coutou to the City of Edmonton of a proposed protocol for the handling of historic burials and request for implementation of a policy and protocol. No Response from City of Edmonton. 2005 Alberta Heritage Community Network establishes a website touching on the friction concerning burials at Rossdale. 2005 The City Planning Commission states that "Prior to the development of the urban design plan for the West Rossdale area, a staged archaeological investigation on the lands which are undisturbed needs to be carried out." 2006 Archaeological work at Rossdale looks at 78 locations identified by citizens as possible burial areas. Study looks only at surface indications of burials. Critisism that surface conditions in an urban distrurbed area are not an accurate indicator of subsurface conditions are ignored. 2006 Archaeological work at Rossdale tests of suspected burial locations accepts only phycsical skeletal remains and does not test for Putricine or organic Calcium remains noticed by observers. Objections to this are brushed aside. 2006 At public meetings the local and aboriginal communities voice their concerns regarding the Rossdale Cemeteries area. 2006 The City of Edmonton, in consultation with stakeholders in the Rossdale burials, developed a Protocol on how to deal with historic burials. This has only been applied in reburials of the Rossdale burials. 2007 Archaeological testing in the Rossdale area again does not test for Putricine or organic Calcium remains noticed by observers. Objections to this are brushed aside. 2007 Heritage Consulting notifies the City of Edmonton that their memorial in the Rossdale area is incomplete and does not account for all persons known to be buried there, and that the research done by the City in regards to burials is inadequate. No response from the City of Edmonton. 2007 The City of Edmonton has hires contractors to build a memorial honouring the First Nation's, Metis, French, English, Scottish, and Irish ancestors who were buried in the Traditional burial ground and Fort Edmonton Cemetery. The work was been done to honor those "ancestors who lived, died and were buried in this most historic and sacred site." 2008 Letter by J. Fromhold on behalf of the Mountain Cree Band asking that City of Edmonton treatment of historic burials is inadequate, and that more appropriate steps be taken. 2008 Grave discovered during construction on 111 St.; City misleadingly claims it to be that of a post 1910's settler. This was one of a number of burials known to be in that area, but of which the contractor was not told by the City. This grave, adjacent to the Ritchie Cemetery, was discovered during backhoe operations. Before the work was halted, about half the burial was sent to a landfill. The remainder were left in the open pit over the weekend and were then collected by the City of Edmonton. At that time it was found that half the skeleton - the lower portion - was missing, as well as the bulk of the skull. No attempt was made to recover any of the remains in the landfill. An archaeologist was called in to examine the site, but was not allowed to directly examine the actual skeleton or remains from the burial. These remains were never seen again. Immediately on hearing of the find Mr. Gerald Delorme notified the city that, based on his past knowlege of the history of that area (the old Paspaschase Indian Reservation), he had cause to believe that this might be a person with aboriginal connections, requesting that a proper analysis be made of the remains, along with attempts to identify the person. He was assured at that time that it was not an aboriginal person, and that it was 'most likely' the burial of a settler from around 1920. At the same time Mr. J. Fromhold, M.A., had also begun to look into the burial and, based on what information was available, determined that this was a burial from before 1900, and probably from around 1890. When this information was put to the City of Edmonton they recanted, stating that no, it was not a settler, but an "Eastern European Woman" buried there around 1910. Mr. Fromhold pointed out that there is no possible way that any forensic anthropologist would be able to differentiate an "Eastern European Woman" from an aboriginal woman, western European or current North American. To respond to questions raised by Mr. Delorme and Mr. Fromhold the site archaeologist was instructed to find the answers to the questions posed. With new information, this was again refuted, and the City conceeded that no analyisis had been done. 1 1/2 years later an report came from the site archaeologist addressing some of the posed questions. He confirmed that the burial was from around 1890, but because he had had no access to the remains, was unable to make any positive identification, beyond a guess that it was probably a female because of the small size. Forensic anthropology is a very precise science. Examination of the bones would easily have been able to determine sex and age. Hair in the burial would have given an indication it it was aboriginal or not. Working from independent sources, Mr. Fromhold was able to verify that this was an aboriginal (97%) female and, given the known history of the site, was probably (80%) Catherine Gladue (nee Hope). This was the Aunt of Senator Adrian Hope (see list of sources for oral traditions, below). In the meantime Mr. Delorme had been attempting to get a reply to the question of what had been done with the bones, but was repeatedly stonewalled. In November of 2009 he was finally told that they had been re-intered somewhere. He received no further answeres to questions of where or how the bones had been re-interred, or if it had been done in a culturally respectful way - or with any approriate service at all. 2008 Letter by J. Fromhold on behalf of the Mountain Cree Band asking that proper attempts be made at identifying the 111 st. burial and subsequent re-interment. 2008, Jan 30; Public Meeting voices the community concerns that the city was not taking adequate steps to protect historic burials in the Rossdale Flats area. 2008 City Planning Department recommends that * An urban design plan will be developed this year for the West Rossdale area * The plan will require input from the stakeholders who have been involved in previous Rossdale projects." 2008 Independent appraisal by J. Fromhold/Heritage Consulting submitted to the City of Edmonton regarding the 111 St. burial questioning the lack of proper archaeological techniques and analysis done at the site, and questioning the stated conclusions. Also pointed out the cultural and religious nature of the burial and the need to treat historical burials in an appropriate manner. No response from the City of Edmonton. 2008 City of Edmonton suggests that burials were conducted as late as 1923 in the Richie Cemetery area, indicating that the City is still fully aware of the existence of burials in this area. 2008 Newspaper articles re. Rossdale burials and the need to have a more responsible approach to development of the Rossdale historic remains. 2008 Letters published in the Edmonton Sun pointing out the inadequacies of the City of Edmonton's treatment of historic burials. 2008 City Planning Department's West Rossdale Summary Report summarizes the concerns and interests surrounding Rossdale. Recommends that the burial grounds and cemeteries be made into Federal Historic Monument. 2008 City of Edmonton releases the West Rossdale Development Plan which stated that priorities were to be given to protection of burials and the historic nature of the Rossdale area. 2008 City of Edmonton requests to the 2010 Olympic Organizing Committee that the City of Edmonton be included in the Olympic Torch Run. 2009 On acceptance to be included in the Olympic Torch Run, the City of Edmonton plans a route that will take the Torch and Olympic Cavelcade through the heart of the Rossdale Cemetery. 2009 City of Edmonton proposes that a new 60,000 seat arena be developed on the Rossdale Cemeteries site. This is subsequently downplayed and the proposed developer champions a different site. 2009 Letter by the City of Edmonton Ismaili Muslim Association in support of aboriginal concerns requesting that the city treat all burials located within the City of Edmonton with equal respect and dignity. 2009 Aboriginal Peoples Television Network airs an article about Rossdale cemeteries and the issue of aboriginal burials. 2009 Nov. After 1 1/2 years of inquiry, Mr. G. Delorme is finally advised that the 111 St. burial had been re-interred somewhere. He received no further answeres to questions of where or how the remain had been re-interred, or if it had been done in a culturally respectful way - or with any approriate service at all. 2009 Mayor Stephen Mandel of the City of Edmonton receives an international Heritage award for his record of preserving the heritage of the City of Edmonton. 2009 City of Edmonton discloses existing development plans to redevelop the entire Rossdale area as the proposed 2017 World's Fair site, involving construction of 10-story high structures and terraforming the entire area. These plans have been in development for some years. 2010 City of Edmonton announces the proposed route for the Olympic Torch Run, showing that it would cut through the heart of the Rossdale Cemetry area. The Alberta Heritage Protection Society and others object to the City over this lack of respect. The City of Edmonton replies that they they were unaware that there was a cemetery or burials in the area. The Olympic Organizing Committee, on the other hand, quickly responded, offering their appologies, but had just been made aware of the situation. Because of the short timeline (2 days), it would be impossible to plan a new route. Instead, as a gesture of respect, the Torch would make a short detour to the Rossdale Memorial to observe a moment of silence. 2010 Inquiries made about what protocols the City of Edmonton had put in place regarding the handeling and disposition of historical burials found in the city limits. City responds that there are no such protocols in place. 2010 The Mountain Cree Band files a Statement of Concern with the City of Edmonton regarding the lack of protection for burials in the Rossdale Burial and a lack of protocol for dealing with accidental disturbance of burials. 2010 The City of Edmonton proposes to consider building a new INDY AUTOMOBILE RACE TRACK on the Rossdale Burial area. 2011 The City of Edmonton is asked to provide it's legal stance regarding it's obligations to the protection of and ethical and dignified treatment of historic burials. To paraphase the legal jargon, their reply was 'We don't want to. No law says we have to. We will not.' 2011 The City of Edmonton announces plans to replace the Walterdale Bridge and to rebuild the approaches and roadways at the north end of the bridge. This is the heart of the known burials. Proposes to remove the Rossdale Memorial. 2011 The City of Edmonton arranges for some Native elders and others to have a blessing for the Walterdale Bridge, later claims that this was an approval for the replacement and rebuilding the bridge and approaches; the Elder conducting the ceremony, Francis Alexis, states that there was no mention of such at the time, that it was purely a blessing for the existing bridge. He states that he has consistently stated to the City of Edmonton that any developments in the Rossdale area would require prior consultation and approval from all First Nations parties with ties to the site, including a general approval by all their membership. 2011 Turtle Island Cultural Resource Management conducts a study into "Statement of Justification for Historical Resource Act Requirements: Walterdale Bridge Replacement and Evaluation Study" which states that it was the unanimous view of all Native persons contacted that there should be no further development in the Rossdale area without approval from the affected First Nations groups. 2011 Letter by the Mountain Cree Band to Councillor Tony Caterina pointing out the Human Rights and legal issues of development in the Rossdale Burial Area. No reply received. 2011 Letter by the Mountain Cree Band to the Mayor and Council protesting the ongoing lack of protocol for the treatment of burials in the Rossdale Burial Area, and the lack of City of Edmonton response to our and other First Nations groups who have historic ties with the Rossdale Burial Area. No reply from the City. 2011 The City of Edmonton announces plans to jointly develop with EPCOR a Cultural Heritage Park on the old E site. Invites "stakeholders" to an information evening and dinner. No parties who have objected to development at Rossdale or to being excluded from consulatation are invited. Mr. J. Fromhold, who had previously offered to invest $1.6 million in such a development, was not invited. Requests to participate by various First Nations groups who have ancestral kin buried at Rossdale were not replied to by the City of Edmonton. 2011 The City of Edmonton announces proposed re-zoning in the Rossdale Burial Area which would remove large Parks and Recreation parcels, changing them to Discretionary Development.

Legislation Pertinent to Burials

Alberta Cemeteries Act Stating that burials marked with a cross or other equivalent symbol are to be considered as a Designated Cemetery Alberta Heritage Resources Act Regulating the ownership and disposition of artifacts found in historic and prehistoric burials Alberta First Nations Ceremonial and Sacred Items Repatriation Act Regulating ownership and repatriation of aboriginal sacred and ceremonial items repatriation in the keeping or aquired by the Province of Alberta

Summary

As is evident, the City of Edmonton has for the past 100 years been repeatedly and numerous times approached to initiate a process of Reasonable Accomodation to the issue of dealing with historic and aboriginal burials. That, in fact, on numerous occasions specific policies and protocols were put forward by a variety of individuals and groups, including government agencies. It is equally evident that the City of Edmonton has known or, with Due Diligence, should have known that several historic cemeteries and burials exist within the borders of the City of Edmoton. It is also equally evident that the City of Edmonton chose not to practice any form of Reasonable Accomodation towards either the protection of such sites, or to handeling or treatment of the remains of such sites when encountered. The only occasion wherein the City of Edmonton participated in actual Reasonable Accomodation was in a project carried out by the Government of Canada. All indications, given the City of Edmonton handeling of the 111 St. burial and Cemetery area, and the current activities in the Indian Gardens and Two Hills area of south Edmonton, and the proposed destruction of the Rossdale Cemeteries area, are that the City has chosen not to, and intends not to, follow any Reasonable Accomodation protocol, or even pretend to do so.

APPENDIX

111 St. Burial Report PHOTO DOCUMENTARY OF HISTORIC ALBERTA GRAVES AND BURIALS; Heritage Consulting; J. Fromhold; 2009 copy online
CREE BURIAL PRACTICES - History and Ethos; Report prepared for the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission Copy available from Heritage Consulting $5.00