Daughter wants answers on why her father’s coffin resurfaced after a quarter century

‘I just keep visualizing it, you know, and it haunts me,’ says daughter Mary Ann Jackson.


Mary Ann Jackson first laid her father, Alfred Peters, to rest 26 years ago.  Then in August, to her horror, she discovered that was no longer the case.

“I just keep visualizing it, you know, and it haunts me. I know that he’s at rest regardless,” she said.

A group of volunteers had been cleaning up debris around the Saint Lawrence Cemetery and came across a partially buried coffin.

On Aug. 18, Akwesasne Mohawk police took to social media, seeking help in identifying the remains.

“The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service were notified, and assistance was requested from a local funeral home for properly handling,” said the police statement.

“The funeral home determined that the casket and remains have been in place for several years.

“The Akwesasne Mohawk Police are investigating to determine the identity of the person.”

Alfred Peters
Police reported the discovery on social media in August. Photo: Annette Francis/APTN.

That’s when Jackson learned of the discovery.

“They believed his name was Alfred. They described my father to a “T” that he died and they buried him in September and my father died in September, the only thing they didn’t have was the year,” Jackson told APTN News.

Jackson and other members of the family, met with the Akwesasne Police and confirmed it was Alfred Peters.

But, Jackson still struggles with what happened, “there’s still the circumstances, like why and its all on the police, like somebody’s got to be accountable for this kind of garbage, it shouldn’t even have been happening.”

Akwesasne police said the investigation is ongoing but it looked like the casket had been moved by accident quite some time ago.

Jackson said there was no headstone or marker for her father at the initial gravesite, which was about 75 metres away from where the casket was found. “Even if you didn’t have a marker that’s still, that’s no excuse for that happening.”

Alfred Peters
The new resting place for Alfred Peters. Photo: Annette Francis/APTN.

Jackson still wants answers and an apology – but for now, she’ll hold on to the good memories of her Dad.

“He was a basket maker, he pounded logs, he came back here, probably about 10 to 15 years before he passed away,” she said. “He was in Syracuse and when he came back, he brought pound-making back. He taught a lot of men to pound and make splints and make baskets and stuff like that.”

According to the police, there is no assigned caretaker of the graveyard.  APTN reached out to the Saint Lawrence Cemetery a number of times but did not receive a response.

Meanwhile, Alfred Peters has been re-buried in a completely different part of the grounds.

Annette is Anishinaabe from Alderville First Nation. She started at APTN as an Ottawa Correspondent in 2007 and has covered Indigenous issues from Parliament Hill and First Nation communities across Ontario. She has also freelanced for CBC Indigenous and Ricochet Media.