Video shows security guard confronting Mohawk Mothers at university site in Montreal


A screenshot from a video recorded on July 25 of a security guard in Montreal.

An archeological dig for unmarked graves has been halted after a group known as the Mohawk Mothers complained about how a security guard treated them at the site.  

APTN News obtained a video that shows one security guard demanding that a group known as Mohawk Mothers leave the grounds of the old Royal Victoria Hospital, where digs are underway to verify claims that victims of botched psychiatric experiments from decades past including Indigenous people, are buried there.

The video, taken at 3:30 p.m. on July 25, shows three security guards from the Commissaires, a private security firm hired by Quebec’s infrastructure society (SQI).

The video shows a young man at the front of the frame, a veiled woman, and a blonde woman. The blonde security guard tells the Mohawk Mothers, a group of women from Kahnawake and their cultural monitors that “The police are on their way… Bye bye.”

As the group walked away she can be heard shouting, “Go and get a life because I don’t think you have a life,” and “go back to your kids if you have any, I don’t think you have any.”

The Mohawk Mothers were onsite monitoring the archeological work underway to determine whether there are unmarked graves on the site – as mandated in their agreement with McGill and SQI outlining how archeological digs would proceed.

“I felt like a protector, not just of the grounds, but there’s a 79-year-old, there’s an 83-year-old, they’re older people. And also, some of our cultural observers are not geared to deal with violence,” said Kwetiio, one of the Mohawk Mothers, in a phone interview with APTN.

“They’re just doing their cultural job and they weren’t prepared for that. So I kind of felt protective of all of them.”

According to Philippe Blouin, an academic who works with the Mohawk Mothers, the mothers and their cultural monitors were packing up for the day at 3:30 p.m., but they typically leave around 4 p.m.

A security guard motioned for Kahentinetha to come speak with them and she was told they had to leave and that the police were on their way.

The blonde female security guard became upset when she noticed she was being filmed.

According to Kwetiio and Blouin, the phone was seized and the video was deleted.

Kwetiio said she tried to de-escalate the situation after the security guard became upset that she was being filmed.

“She goes, ‘Unless you show me a court order… you can’t be here, you got to show me,’ said Kwetiio.

Watch the video here:

The guard was told there was a court order – but not a hard copy for the guard to see.

“You gotta go right now or I’m calling the cops,” Kwetiio said the guard ordered.

After this, another member of their party began filming, which is the footage that was shared with APTN.

Kwetiio said the cultural monitors “don’t feel like they can go back there anymore.”

“And the thing is, the court order says that they’re going to have the cultural monitors that are on the site watching and their archaeologists. The cultural monitors on-site do small ceremony and such and they’ll know how to direct but not if that’s not there, then the dig shouldn’t happen,” said Kwetiio.

In a written statement to APTN, SQI called it an “unfortunate isolated incident” and indicated the security guard in question had been removed from the site. The SQI said they “condemn all forms of racism and aggression and considers this agent’s actions and behaviours inappropriate.” The SQI also stated they were in communication with the security firm to deal with the incident.

According to Blouin, the archeologists on-site also recommended the digs be halted until the situation was properly addressed.

Since the start of their negotiations with McGill and SQI, the Kahnistensera have requested to be in charge of the security and hire Mohawk guards.

“What’s crazy about this is that from the beginning, even before they started, we wanted to have our security there, our own security because they understand the gravity of what’s happening… We wanted them there because they would know the people who are goingt o be there and know to give privacy at certain times. And now that’s not the case,” said Kwetiio.

APTN has contacted the Commissionnaires and the Montreal police services, and has yet to receive a response.

McGill had planned on renovating the old Royal Victoria Hospital site with its New Vic Project.

The site is next to the Allan Memorial Institute, where Dr. Ewen Cameron conducted mind-control experiments on non-consenting patients using high doses of LSD, barbiturates, “psychic driving” and electroshock therapy.

In the spring of 2022, the Mohawk Mothers, or Kahnistensera, submitted a case to the superior court to postpone the planned construction of the New Vic project until the site had been properly examined for bodies of victims of Cameron’s experiments.

They alleged that Indigenous children were part of these experiments, given the prevalence of experimentation on Indigenous children in residential schools.

While their evidence was largely circumstantial, in October 2022, they were granted an injunction to halt the construction of the New Vic project.

In April 2023, the Kahnistensera reached an agreement with McGill and SQI to search the grounds for possible unmarked graves. On June 9, cadaver dogs detected the scent of human remains near the old nurses dormitories by the Allan Memorial Institute.

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