Ground-penetrating radar search wraps up at McGill University

Peter Takacs (right) and his colleague perform GPR scans.

Technicians have completed their ground penetrating radar search at McGill University in Montreal to help determine if there are historical unmarked graves of Indigenous children.

The work took place in front of the Hersey Pavillion at McGill, where cadaver dogs detected the scent of decomposing bodies, according to a report by the Ottawa Valley Search and Rescue Dog Association.

These archeological procedures were sparked by Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera, also known as the Mohawk Mothers – a group of women from Kahnawá:ke, Que., who allege there are unmarked graves on the site from child victims of botched psychiatric experiments that were part of the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program.

“We’re doing what we said we’re going to do, and we’re looking for our children,” said Kahentintha, a Mohawk mother overseeing the work.

“And we’re using the latest high-tech gadgets that exist.”

GPR scans took place around the Hersey Pavillion, where sniffer dogs detected the scent of human remains.

The analysis of the data won’t be available for another month or so, said Peter Takacs of Geoscan, the company doing the GPR scans.

Takacs said GPR works by sending “electromagnetic waves into the ground” and listening “to the echoes that come back from various interfaces.

“It’s basically sampling the ground at very high frequencies, and we analyse this slice by slice,” he added.

The data ends up looking like a map of disturbances in the soil, which can include large rocks, tree roots and more.

Takacs said the raw data is not very useful on its own.

“What that might be needs to be analysed by local experts, archeologists, you know, anyone who can give you more information about what it could be,” he said.

“You can’t just look at the ground penetrating radar data and say there are unmarked graves. You need to know the local geology, the history of the site, so it’s a very complex sort of analysis.”

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