For the first time in history, the B.C. government is using the court system to ensure remains of First Nations people are protected.
The announcement came Thursday from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development regarding ancestral remains unearthed in an orchard near Keremeos.
The ancestral remains of at least seven people were unearthed near Keremeos on Feb., 29, 2016 when contractors started to flatten a small hill in an orchard so more apple trees could be planted.
Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, direct descendants of those unearthed, gave the news to more than 100 people including his members and those of the Okanagan Nation and from across the province at a Day of Action event held near the site Thursday morning.
Those at the rally held signs with slogans including, ‘No More Grave Desecration,’ ‘Province of B.C. We Ask For a Peaceful Solution,’ and “Would You Dig Up Your Grandma?’
“This is a positive. But we are still moving ahead with our plan. On Sept. 11 we are going to go on that site with or without a permit and start doing the archeological work and start recovering the rest of the bones that are there so we can rebury on that site,” he said.
The province plans to make an application to the courts under the Heritage Conservation Act, if approved it will force the property owners to restore the site and undertake the required conservation work. No timelines were given by the province as to when they might file to the court or how long the process might take.
Crow said the LSIB was able to access the site over a two-day period in November 2016 to remove about 500 bone fragments. The remains are being kept safely off-site but a permit to allow repatriation from archeology branch has not been issued because the landowner has not signed off.
Source: Black Press Digital