The human skull Claire Rattée bought her boyfriend Oliver James Brown as a birthday gift. (@Dean_Winnipeg Twitter photo)

Northern B.C. federal Conservative candidate under fire for human skull gift

Party says they stand behind Claire Rattée 100 per cent

A birthday gift from Conservative federal MP candidate Claire Rattée to her boyfriend has raised a number of questions from those in her riding.

A Facebook post from Feb. 6 from Oliver James Brown states Rattée, the candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, “is thee best girlfriend ever! My birthday gift came today my first real human skull and its from the 1700’s! So happy what an amazing gift babe thank you so much!

A fire fighting tugboat performed a series of acrobatic maneuvers, including a display of its fire hose capabilities. (AlexKurial / The Northern View)

READ MORE: Kitimat resident is Conservative choice for fall election

The issue is a sensitive one in Indigenous communities due to centuries of mistreatment of human remains. Many remains are still in museums or private collections around the world, having failed to go under the repatriation process. The population of Skeena-Bulkley Valley is around one-third Indigenous, the highest percentage of all 42 federal ridings in the province.

But Rattée says that this is not the case regarding this particular skull, which she bought from a speciality store in Toronto.

“It’s from the 1700s, it’s a European skull, and it belonged to a medical professional that retired,” said Rattée, referencing documentation she says she received with the purchase. “It’s pretty common back then that people would leave their bodies to science,” she added, which she believes is how the skull came into the original owner’s possession.

Rattée, who along with her boyfriend are tattoo artists with Divine Ink in Kitimat, said the skull will be used for artistic purposes, such as a reference for tattoo works.

Rattée added that she understands why there might be some concern, but says the skull is not Indigenous, and that she took the appropriate steps in buying it.

“This is a purchase that I spent about six months researching to make sure that the seller that I bought it from makes every effort to repatriate human remains that they find,” said Rattée.

Photo

The Conservative party saw no problem with the gift.

“We stand behind Claire 100 per cent,” said Cory Hann, director of communications for the party. “She bought it from a reputable online vendor. The vendor followed all necessary criteria in the process. Claire followed all necessary criteria in the process.”

Smithers mayor and NDP candidate Taylor Bachrach declined to comment.

Possession of human remains is a hotly debated topic, whether they are Indigenous or not. Opinions range from defining them as art, to believing it is immoral for someone to possess such items, especially in a private collection.

– with files from Thom Barker


Alex Kurial | Journalist
Alex Kurial 
Send Alex email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Election 2019federal election 2019

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PanAmour, featuring some familiar Port Alberni faces, will perform online via Zoom Oct. 30, 2020 at Char’s Landing. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cure the blues with PanAmour at Char’s Landing

Tickets for virtual concert available online

Pat Lauder laughs as car after car pass his home on Josephine Street and honk, the drivers shouting birthday greetings. Lauder turns 80 this year. Oct. 22, 2020 ((SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hupacasath First Nation elder feted with family parade in Port Alberni

Pat Lauder celebrates 80 years in socially-distanced style

Mike Slaco, owner of Electron Metalworks, works on a large-scale piece of Tseshaht First Nation-designed artwork that will be incorporated into the side of the Harbour Quay Clocktower once it is refurbished. Slaco is working with the City of Port Alberni on the project. (RACHEL THEUS PHOTO)
Port Alberni’s waterfront clock tower will get a facelift in 2021

Aging Harbour Quay clock tower needs to be refurbished

Andrea Monticue and Herb Bruce will be the featured readers at Alberni Valley Words on Fire on Oct. 28. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Alberni Valley Words on Fire goes international

Spoken word event will take place on Fridays instead of Wednesdays starting next month

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

The Calgary Zoo is aiding in recovery efforts for the Vancouver Island marmot, an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)
Despite challenges, 2020 good year for Vancouver Island marmot population

In 2019, the foundation counted 60 pups; this year, it reached 46

Items seized over four days of targeted vehicle checks Nanaimo and Victoria by members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC photo)
Gang enforcement team seizes drugs and weapons in Nanaimo and Victoria

Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. checked 33 vehicles over four days

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers, staff by parents must stop: Chilliwack soccer club

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Most Read