Sunday, 17 August 2014

archeology of respect: revisiting provincial and federal laws & current practice with an eye for human rights and dignity of persons

Map from Times-Colonist
"B.C. policies that do not give First Nations burial grounds the same protections as cemeteries are discriminatory and out of date, says Tseycum Chief Vern Jacks.

Jacks and other local aboriginal leaders have been fighting to protect a small island in Ganges Harbour where human remains and burial cairns were found in 2006.
Because the burial site dates from before 1846, it is managed under the Heritage Conservation Act — not the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act, which offers greater protection.
“The laws are racist,” Jacks said. “We’re tired of being ignored and we’re tired of being disrespected.”
Provincial archeologists in the 1970s marked Grace Islet as part of an ancient First Nations village. It later became privately owned and subdivided into a residential lot. "  ...

Cemeteries vs. burial sites: Disputes and practices

There are 38,927 archeological sites recorded in B.C. How many of them contain remains is unknown. Since 1976, the province has purchased nine for preservation.
There have been several disputes over burial site developments on Vancouver Island. In 1994, the excavation of 147 graves for a condominium development in Nanoose Bay incited public protest and a court challenge to have the site deemed a cemetery. Though the challenge was denied, the province purchased the waterfront site for $7.8-million and designated it as green space.
In Ontario, cemetery law — not the heritage act — deals with aboriginal burial grounds, and landowners and First Nations resolve issues directly.
Parks Canada’s cultural resource management policy does not consider human remains as artifacts, stating: “Although they may have heritage value for their associated cultural groups or next of kin, and scientific value for researchers, to classify them as resources may be considered irreverent and may diminish their spiritual significance. All human remains should be treated with respect and dignity.” ...

~B.C. burial ground policies are racist, Tseycum chief says, SARAH PETRESCU / TIMES COLONIST  {follow links for more} 2014

Petition: Honour Grace Islet 2014




"British Columbia’s Archaeology Branch, after a year of deliberation, chose Reconciliation Week to extend a provincial heritage site alteration permit to an Albertan businessman so he could build his luxury waterfront vacation home atop this First Nation cemetery. ... Grace Islet, part of the large ancient village of Shiya’hwt waht at the head of Ganges Harbour...

"Yet buying back a burial site is what the Musqueam First Nation was recently forced to do at the Marpole village site in Vancouver—another ironic Reconciliation Week announcement. Wade Grant, councillor of Musqueam ... questions why “a 1000-year-old Viking burial site is declared a World UNESCO Heritage Site while a much older Musqueam burial site is declared an inconvenience.” For Grant, the Marpole site in the heavily urbanized Vancouver location is the “last undeveloped heritage site of our traditional Musqueam culture—as much part of Canadian heritage as Viking sites.”  ...

"The Musqueam purchase is the latest in a series of high profile burial site fiascos. The destruction of the burial site at Poet’s Cove on Pender Island in 2006 led to the first fines for altering without a permit, but still resulted in what was called by Robert Morales, chief negotiator for the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, “one of the worst desecrations of an aboriginal burial ground by development in the recent history of Canada.” 
"A year later, the Snuneymuxw First Nation was faced with the destruction of the Departure Bay burial site. The site wasn’t issued a stop order until 80 individuals had been dug up and the premier was directly lobbied. The Province eventually withdrew the permit and protected the site directly by providing the $2.5 million in funds to buy it. 
"Archaeologist McLay says a chronic lack of political will and investment to uphold the principles of the provincial Heritage Conservation Act over the past decade has led to this crisis. The dismantling of the BC Heritage Trust in 2003 led to the current absence of any role for government to publicly invest in provincial heritage site conservation, research, education or heritage site stewardship across the province. 
"Despite strong legislation, the Archaeology Branch’s narrow interpretation of the Act has had the effect of aiding development of archaeological sites rather than conserving them. The lack of any provincial policy or guidelines on decision making over the issuance of alteration permits is of key concern and has led to what McLay calls a “morally-bankrupt” system: “they have no principles, policies, or ethics to responsibly ground a decision to ever say ‘no’ to development—site preservation is always an ad hoc political decision, often made after-the-fact of development.” 
~Bulldozing burial grounds BY BRIONY PENN 2013


The Non-Protection Of Canadian Aboriginal Heritage 
(Burial Sites And Artifacts) [pdf] 2005

1 comment:

Linda Crosfield said...

“a 1000-year-old Viking burial site is declared a World UNESCO Heritage Site while a much older Musqueam burial site is declared an inconvenience.”

Lot of truth there.

About time I caught up on your blog.