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

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

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

(File photo)
Interior Health declares COVID-19 outbreak at Teck’s Elk Valley operations over

48 cases were linked to three Teck locations in the Elk Valley

(File photo)
Sparwood backs calls to declare Canadian overdose crisis a national public health emergency

Paramedics across B.C. responded to more overdose calls in 2020 than ever before

The district of Sparwood is seeking feedback on its Recreation Master Plan. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Non-medical cannabis store proposed for Sparwood

If approved, Elk Valley Cannabis would be the first cannabis business in the district

Natalie Joynes, Theo Hepher, Kai Dedey, and Sophia Becker sit on a blanket enjoying FYAN’s summer youth programming. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Job Readiness Workshops available for local youth

Registration is now open for the series of free virtual workshops

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Volunteer firefighters from Grand Forks Fire/Rescue head towards the scene of fatal car crash near Gibbs Creek Road, below Highway 3, Thursday evening, Jan. 21. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Motorist dies in Highway 3 crash west of Grand Forks

City first responders were called to the scene Thursday evening, Jan. 21

Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram could be playing for Colorado when the NHL resumes play. (Rik Fedyck/file)
Cranbrook product Bowen Byram makes NHL debut with Avalanche

Highly touted prospect marks first pro game following World Junior tournament in Alberta

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

Most Read