From An Era When First Nation’s People Were Regarded As Savages

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1The construction you see above occurred because the government refused to intervene after the owner took out the right permit. It was built on Grace Islet, a recognized First Nation’s burial site in Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island. This could not have happened in a white graveyard. It is only possible because British Columbia’s Cemetery Act descends from an era when First Nations were regarded as savages.

Were Not Consulted

Photo Credit: Grace Islet on Christmas Day 2014 - Roy L Hales photo
Photo Credit: Grace Islet on Christmas Day 2014 – Roy L Hales photo

If the Island’s Trust had consulted the archaeological records before zoning Grace Islet “residential”, they would have discovered that it was a burial site.

The First Nations whose ancestors are buried here were not consulted before the land was sold in 1990. They did not receive any payment, or renounce their claim that this was part of their ancestral territory.

Failure To Protect

Photo Credit: Grace Islet on Christmas Day 2014 - Roy L Hales photo
Photo Credit: Grace Islet on Christmas Day 2014 – Roy L Hales photo

The provincial Government’s failure to protect these First Nation’s  graves may lead to the first aboriginal title claim on private land in BC.  On November 10, 2014, Chief William Seymour of the Cowichan Tribes sent Premier Christy Clark notice of claim to aboriginal title over Grace Islet.

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