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

Skeena-Bulkley Valley 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 dated 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!”

The Facebook post from Oliver James Brown after receiving the human skull. (@Dean_Winnipeg Twitter photo)

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 DivineInk 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.

Claire Rattée and Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer appear together at an event. (@Dean_Winnipeg Twitter 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

Election 2019federal election 2019

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

Just Posted

Rio Tinto responds to U.S. aluminum import tariffs

The tariffs were imposed by President Donald Trump Aug. 6

Coastal GasLink breaks ground on meter station in Kitimat

Meter station marks final point on pipeline that stretches from Northeast B.C.

Mayoral nominations open Sept. 1

Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill confirms she will be running for the top job

Brucejack mine fatality identified

Patrick Critch was from Newfoundland

Friendship Centre optimistic MMIWG mural will be painted this year

Following trauma-informed healing workshops, project is now in the design phase

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read