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GPR results set for former Indian hospital grounds

Although a five-inch bone fragment found on the grounds of the former Charles Camsell Indian Hospital in Edmonton has determined the bone to be from an animal (the fragment was turned in by someone who claims it was found on the site), Architect Gene Dub, who is converting the site into family dwellings, is still waiting on the reports concerning GPR (ground penetrating radar).

Dub’s development plan is set to make the findings public and is working in consultation with the chief of the Papaschase band in Edmonton, and Dr. Kisha Supernant, director of the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archeology with the University of Alberta.

If a possible burial ground is located, the decision may be made to unearth it. “We wouldn't want to decide without input from all the parties and those parties would be perhaps Indigenous peoples who were involved in the hospital, whose relatives were there,” said Dub, who is certain those who are interested will approach him.

There are numerous indigenous stories about the hospital grounds as a burial ground. The site served as a tuberculosis sanatorium for Indigenous patients from the western provinces and the Arctic. It became an Indian Hospital in 1945, having previously served as a Jesuit College and a hospital for veterans.

Although Dub was previously skeptical about the possibility of indigenous remains on the site, he claims the Kamloops residential school discovery changed his mind to pursue GPR.

“It is disturbing (that Dub waited until the Kamloops uncovering), but the thing is, it is good he’s taking that approach where, like he knows, there’s a very real possibility here that human remains are here and we better deal with it,” said the chief of the Papaschase band.

“We’re trying to imagine what areas there possibly could have been burials and that’s one that could have had burials before the buildings were built,” said Dub. Results are expected this week.

If bones are found, Dub has stated that he will not go ahead with his planned development.

The overall project involves the hospital being converted into housing and a seniors project.

In an interview with TBT's Director of Operations, Gene also confirmed that there is to be a memorial on the property to honor indigenous patients.

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