Statement by Minister Rodriguez on the Repatriation of Beothuk Human Remains


OTTAWA, January 21, 2019

Today, we mark the decision by National Museums Scotland (NMS) to repatriate the remains of Demasduit and her husband Nonosabasut, two Beothuk individuals of national significance for Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and our country. In 1827, the remains of this couple were wrongfully removed from their graves by Scottish-Canadian William Cormack, who later donated them to the University of Edinburgh, from where they were eventually transferred to the collection of NMS.

The Government of Canada is very grateful for the understanding, cooperation and goodwill shown by NMS and the Scottish government throughout the course of Canada’s efforts to secure the return of these remains. Canadian Heritage agreed to make a request to NMS for their return on behalf of the Government of Canada and in collaboration with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Indigenous communities. The Government of Canada thanks the Indigenous communities and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for their support and leadership throughout this project.

The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and understands how important gestures such as this are to that healing process. The government will work with NMS on the repatriation process to Canada. The remains will then be transferred to Newfoundland and Labrador.


Simon Ross
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

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