Quebec to exhume remains of Innu boys whose families have questions about 1970 deaths

Innu boys

A photo of memorial dolls created to commemorate Quebec's ‘ghost babies’ who are children who disappeared from hospitals or institutions outside their communities over a period of more than 50 years. Photo: APTN.

A Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized the exhumation of the remains of two Innu boys whose families have questions about their 1970 deaths at a Quebec hospital.

The exhumations are the first to be authorized under a 2021 Quebec law intended to help Indigenous families learn more about the deaths and disappearances of their children in Quebec health-care institutions.

The children, aged four months and one month, died in May 1970 at a hospital in Baie-Comeau, Que., around 413 kilometres northeast of Quebec City, after they were admitted for whooping cough.

Justice Nancy Bonsaint’s ruling says that in both cases, the families were instructed not to open their children’s caskets and that burials took place the day after their deaths.

Francoise Ruperthouse, who helped the families apply for the court authorization, says they wonder whether their children were really in the caskets given to them.

The province’s coroner will conduct a DNA test on the remains of both children.

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