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
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