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Beothuk remains returned to Newfoundland after almost two centuries in Scotland

The Newfoundland flag blows in the wind in Ferryland, NL, August 8, 2013.
The Newfoundland flag blows in the wind in Ferryland, NL, August 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The remains of two Indigenous people have been returned to Newfoundland from Scotland after being stolen from a grave site on the island almost two centuries ago.

Representatives from five Indigenous groups in Newfoundland and Labrador were at The Rooms archive in St. John’s Wednesday, where the remains of Beothuk people Nonosabasut and Demasduit had arrived hours earlier.

READ MORE: Newfoundland First Nation to study genetic links with ancient Beothuk

National Museums Scotland announced last year that the remains would be transferred to Canada following a federal government request.

Mary March, also known by her Indigenous name as Demasduit, one of the last Beothuk, is shown in this painting by Lady Hamilton. The Canadian Press/HO-Library and Archives Canada

The remains will stay at The Rooms so they can be preserved until a final burial site is decided on by Indigenous leaders.

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Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Miawpukek First Nation, who led efforts for the return starting in 2015, says it’s a sacred moment for the island’s history.

READ MORE: Rare DNA quirk could reveal mysteries of Newfoundland’s first settlers

The remains of married couple Nonosabasut and Demasduit were discovered by Newfoundlander William Eppes Cormack in 1828 and sent to Scotland.

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