In June we looked at animal and human bones at the University of Winnipeg. We held tiny fragments in our hands and learned how easily bones blend into their surroundings. Volunteers from Drag the Red sat beside us, and we spent the day learning how to maximize ground searches.
Looking for clues
A tray of animal bones that we examined.
For the third year in a row, Dr. Emily Holland, a forensic Anthropologist at Brandon University volunteered her time for two days to teach the seminars. She had a crew of knowledgeable colleagues and students who accompanied her.
We learned that animals break apart bones to eat the marrow, so we have to search carefully for fragments and broken pieces. Dr. Holland presented us with slides and real life experiences including the time she spent at the Robert Pickton farm. We talked about how hard it can be if we actually make a discovery.
The seminar also taught us that ground searches are an art. We practiced at Central Park and learned how to walk in lines and slowly sift through the grass, shoulder to shoulder. The anthropologists placed animal bones in the grass and we split up into teams searching for them. A fingernail and a chicken wing were also discovered.
Dr. Holland explained that we are still not qualified to assess human bones. But we now have the tools to know what we are looking for. If we think we make a discovery on a ground search with Drag the Red we can send pictures of our findings to Dr. Holland for assessment.