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RCMP confirms bones found at Labrador sweat lodge not human

Janet Cooper and Joey Michelin look through the fire pits where bone fragments were found on July 20.
Janet Cooper and Joey Michelin look through the fire pits where bone fragments were found on July 20. - Contributed

Bone fragments discovered by the family of a missing North West River man are not human, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has determined.

“(The Sheshatshiu RCMP) confirmed that they were provided notice from the OCME confirming that the remains (bones) were not human. That is all the information we have,” read the email from an RCMP spokesperson.

The bones were discovered in the fire pits of a sweat lodge, located off Route 520 in central Labrador, by members of the Cooper family. They have been trying to find out what happened to Luke Cooper who has been missing for more than a year.

According to an RCMP press release from last year, it is believed Luke Cooper fell into the water while canoeing in the early morning of July 15, 2018. The RCMP has stated since then they don’t believe foul play was involved in his disappearance.

But the Cooper family has been following leads ever since Luke Cooper’s disappearance, and many in the family believe foul play is a possibility. They discovered the bones on July 20, 2019, after receiving a tip from someone claiming to be a medicine woman.

According to Sheila Cooper, Luke’s sister, the medicine woman had a vision that Luke’s body was burned, and they should check out a lodge.

“She wasn’t sure if it was a fishing lodge or what not, so me and Ann (Cooper) went up to the sweat lodge to have a look because it’s the only lodge we know of,” said Sheila.

“Sure enough, we found bones in three separate fire pits, so that piqued our interests.”

The Coopers collected some bone fragments and brought them to the Sheshatshiu RCMP. The RCMP collected the fragments and went to the sweat lodge to examine the fire pits, according to Sheila Cooper.

This isn’t the first time the family has received a tip on Luke’s disappearance from a psychic or seer of visions.

“Some of us are not that into psychics, but what harm can it do?” Sheila said.

The Cooper family recently filed a complaint against the RCMP with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, claiming that the Sheshatshiu detachment mishandled the case, and didn’t follow up on leads that pointed to potential foul play.

“I can confirm that the RCMP has received a complaint from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) in relation to the Luke Cooper investigation,” said an RCMP spokesperson in an email. “We will review the complaint in detail and respond to the Commission, as per the process in place, which we fully support.

“Civilian review is essential for ensuring public trust and confidence. We will participate fully in this complaints process.”


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