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

Tim Schewe
DriveSmart: Police Powers

By Tim Schewe If you are stopped by the police, just what… Continue reading

A COVID-19 exposure has been reported at Drinkwater Elementary School dating to Feb. 25. (Google Street View image)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Drinkwater Elementary

Possible exposures occurred on Thursday, Feb. 25

A graphic design of the new RCMP detachment which will be located on a five-acre property bordering Ford Road and Drinkwater Road. (File graphic)
Heavy trucks not allowed shortcut during construction of RCMP detachment

North Cowichan won’t allow heavy trucks on Drinkwater Road where not designated

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Laketown Ranch to welcome campers this summer

Sunfest site will provide camping amenities between May and September

‘I chose my children’s breakfasts purely based on what dishes would fit best into the dishwasher.’ (Bobbi Venier photo)
Sarah Simpson Column: Delayed gratification and the benefits of efficiency

I was driving with just my daughter the other day and we… Continue reading

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

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

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Most Read