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Discovery of Human Remains

Discovery of Human Remains – Portage la Prairie

A letter was sent by Chief Cornell Pashe (Dakota Tipi First Nation) to the former Mayor Ken Brennan back in 2008 asking that his concerns and questions be brought before council to be addressed.

The remains of 5 adults and one child were found at Wilkinson Crescent and Phoebe intersection construction site. Additional remains were also found in the excavated soil from Wilkinson Crescent site to build up the embankment at Yellowquill School – Crescent Lake location. Discussions with the Elders have deemed it likely that the remains discovered belong to Dakota?Sioux forefathers who settled on Parish Lot #99 prior to 1891. The excavation site has in fact disturbed an ancient Dakota burial site. The oral history confirms significant burials in that area of Dakota individuals who died from small pox during the late 1800’s.

During talks with the Elders, there is four additional Dakota sites of significance which by their account are located in the Island Park area. It is probable that these sites are on or adjacent to the site of the Multiplex Complex. It seems quite authentic also that in the very early days natives were buried along the Portage la Prairie trail that ran from the Assiniboine River to Lake Manitoba. I often talk of the remnants of that old trail that ran across the woods of our farm on the Island. Also a little further south it is said that there are the graves of three Indian Chief just over the fence south of Brandon Avenue. (on Kerman property).With that information, a list of issues, concerns and requests were brought for council to look at.

They were asking that there be careful and respectful exploration of already disturbed sites and any new locations that the Elders had identified as possible burial locations. They also asked that any remains or artifacts that are found be handled very carefully and they are able to have them tested to help prove the claim of the Dakota Nations of Manitoba. This is due to the Government of Canada consistently refusing to recognize Dakota Aboriginal rights and refused to negotiate in good faith a settlement of their outstanding claim. That in the event that Canada’s position on it does not change then legal action will certainly be undertaken.

They asked of council that delays and stop work orders happen as necessary, that all measures be taken to ensure the excavation, retrieval and protection work required proceeds without undue haste, investigation must be given time required without undue pressure from any source. They also asked for assistance from both Council and Manitoba Historical Society to ensure appropriate DNA and other testing on the remains discovered and any new discoveries as well. They requested that the representatives from Dakota Nations of Manitoba continue to be consulted and involved in all aspects of the work and any future sites that may be unearthed so not to compromise sacred and burial sites. And in their conclusion they asked for the cooperation of Council to add its voice in their request to the Government of Canada to engage in real good faith negotiations with the Dakota First nations in respect to their claim to un-extinguished Aboriginal rights including Aboriginal title. “It is only when this occurs and a fair and equitable settlement is achieved, that concerns about legal impediments and challenges to virtually any proposed future development in the Portage la Prairie area will be set to rest”.

A closed door meeting was held to discuss these issues .But what ever happened to the results? Mr. Mayor, you say you are happy to answer questions. Please do so on this issue. With the new proposal for construction of a hotel/convention centre on the Island property(2 and one half acres) next to Stride Place, it is even more important to be on top of the issue of protecting Native rights on the Island.


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