Media Releases

1,760 Huron-Wendat Nation Ancestors reburied

September 16, 2013

TORONTO, ON – Today, through a part­ner­ship between the Huron-Wen­dat Nation, the Ontario Her­itage Trust and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, the remains of 1,760 Huron-Wen­dat Ances­tors were reburied in a serene rest­ing place that will be pro­tect­ed in per­pe­tu­ity, recon­nect­ing the Huron-Wen­dat Nation with their fore­bears. This is the largest rebur­ial of abo­rig­i­nal ances­tral remains ever under­tak­en in North Amer­i­ca.

The reburied remains date back from the 13th to mid-17th cen­turies and were dis­cov­ered dur­ing exca­va­tions con­duct­ed by archae­ol­o­gists pri­mar­i­ly from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to in the mid- to late-20th cen­tu­ry. The 1,760 Ances­tors were dis­cov­ered in a num­ber of sep­a­rate bur­ial sites in var­i­ous loca­tions in south­ern Ontario.

The pri­vate rebur­ial occurred at the loca­tion where the largest of the orig­i­nal bur­ial sites was dis­cov­ered. The sig­nif­i­cant nat­ur­al her­itage and archae­o­log­i­cal pre­serve is sit­u­at­ed with­in a con­ser­va­tion area owned by the Ontario Her­itage Trust.

As a result of the part­ner­ship forged between the Huron-Wen­dat Nation, the Ontario Her­itage Trust and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to to con­duct the rebur­ial, the Huron-Wen­dat Ances­tors have been recon­nect­ed with a place they once inhab­it­ed and unit­ed in a tra­di­tion­al bur­ial site.

The Ontario Her­itage Trust will ensure that the site, known as the Thon­nakona Ossuary – the name giv­en to the rebur­ial ground by the Huron-Wen­dat Nation – is con­served as a serene nat­ur­al land­scape and sacred site in per­pe­tu­ity.


“Decades lat­er, we final­ly gave our ances­tors a respect­ful bur­ial. Sep­tem­ber 14th is great day in our his­to­ry. The Huron-Wen­dat Nation, with their broth­ers and sis­ters from the Wyan­dot Nation and oth­er First Nations, paid trib­ute to our ances­tors in the high­est regard. We also thank our part­ners for their ongo­ing sup­port in mak­ing this jour­ney a mem­o­rable one.”

— Kon­rad Sioui, Grand Chief of the Huron-Wen­dat Nation

“By return­ing the Ances­tors of the Huron-Wen­dat Nation to a peace­ful rest­ing place, this rebur­ial hon­ours their lives, their mem­o­ry and their lega­cy. It also pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty for future gen­er­a­tions of the descen­dants to con­nect with their his­to­ry and her­itage. I am tru­ly moved and hum­bled to have wit­nessed this his­toric moment and am deeply grate­ful to the peo­ples of the Huron-Wen­dat First Nation, the Ontario Her­itage Trust and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to for their col­lec­tive efforts and ener­gies in facil­i­tat­ing this sacred and sig­nif­i­cant occa­sion.”

— Michael Chan, Min­is­ter of Tourism, Cul­ture and Sport

“I’m pleased the Huron-Wen­dat Ances­tors have been treat­ed with care and respect and have been recon­nect­ed with a place that was their home. We com­mend all the par­ties involved for the years of hard work that has cul­mi­nat­ed in this his­toric event.”

— David Zim­mer, Min­is­ter of Abo­rig­i­nal Affairs

“I’m very pleased that the Ontario Her­itage Trust has had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take a lead­er­ship role in facil­i­tat­ing this rebur­ial and respect­ful recon­nec­tion of the Huron-Wen­dat Nation with their Ances­tors. It rep­re­sents a momen­tous event in the his­to­ry of the province and an impor­tant step along the road to build­ing stronger rela­tion­ships with First Nations com­mu­ni­ties.”

— Thomas H.B. Symons, Chair­man of the Ontario Her­itage Trust

“This return and rebur­ial rep­re­sents the clos­ing of a cir­cle for all involved. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to com­mu­ni­ty appre­ci­ates the spir­i­tu­al sig­nif­i­cance of the result­ing recon­nec­tion of the Huron-Wen­dat Nation and their Ances­tors, and we are grate­ful to the Huron-Wen­dat Nation and to the Ontario Her­itage Trust for their part­ner­ship in this his­toric event.”

— David Nay­lor, Pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to


  • The Wen­dat peo­ples resided in the region of Ontario between the years 1200 and 1650.
  • Today, the Huron-Wen­dat Nation is locat­ed in the com­mu­ni­ty of Wen­dake near Que­bec City. It is the only Wen­dat Nation in Cana­da.



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For more infor­ma­tion about the Huron-Wen­dat Nation, con­tact:
Mélanie Vin­cent

For more infor­ma­tion about the Ontario Her­itage Trust, con­tact:
Cat­ri­na Colme

For more infor­ma­tion about the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, con­tact:
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Media Hot­line