VICTORIA, BC. (NP) Chiefs of several BC native bands want to examine a complete skeleton found in a stall in the womenís washroom at the Eaton Centre last month.

Jim Stewart, Chief  Project Officer with the BC Government Unclaimed Skeletons Branch, is considering what to do after members of several First Nations insisted the skelton may be aboriginal and therefore must not be subjected to forensic examination but be returned immediately to First Nations for ceremonial burial.

Mr. Stewart, an archaeologist, does not think it belonged to a First Nations person, "at least one following a traditional lifestyle," he said. The skelton was fully clothed and was evidently female.  "There was a piece of paper still clutched in the skeletonís right hand and there was a lady's handbag still suspended from the tissue dispenser," he said.

According to the Coroner's Office, "Death occurred probably just after the mall opened."  There is no evidence to suggest that death was due to anything but natural causes, although the spokesperson noted that in their report they may suggest that work procedures for the mall's cleanup staff should be reviewed. 

Mall management had been summoned when a shopper complained that a particular stall in the mid-floor ladies' washroom was always in use. The woman, who did not wish to be indentified, said that on "hundreds of occasions" she had used the washroom and wondered about the stall never being available. "At first, I thought the place had a musty smell and complained to the attendant, but after a few years, I didnít notice it so much," she said.

Police said that they had to jimmy open the door, which apparently had a faulty lock. It is a mystery why the person didn't yell to get attention. According to a spokesperson, police are speculating that the skeleton belonged to a deaf mute, or possibly she just had a paralytic seizure when she read what was written on the piece of paper still clutched in her skelton hand.

Asked what was written on the paper, the spokesman said that the writing had faded somewhat, but that it was a blank cheque for over one million dollars issued by something called the Human Resources Canada, Job-Creation-No-Application-Needed Fund.

The spokesperson said, "It could have been a hoax, but it must have brought on the fatal attack. Like I said it was a blank cheque and there was no other indentification in the handbag."

At Human Resouces Development Canada, a parliamentary secretary for the Minister, Ms. Jane Stewart, told Notional Pest that no such cheques had been issued since standard accounting practices were put in place several years after the Jobs Initiative Fund had been set up on orders of the prime minister. 

The secretary was indignant when she perceived that my questions insinuated a connection with the skeleton and new government initiatives of the Liberal government. After repeated denials, however, she eventually, admitted that a few thousand such cheques were issued in the early days. "But absolutely none has been issued since procedures were tightened up." From Notional Pest, January, 2000