Grace Islet is a recognized First Nations burial site which was zoned residential and someone is building a house there. This would not be allowed if this were a European burial ground, but older First Nations sites are treated differently in BC. The Provincial Minister responsible will not intervene because the owners permits are in order. Representatives of the Southern Gulf Islands communities held a Grace Island Purification on August 11, 2014.
The community shared their feelings about the construction on this sacred First Nations burial site.
Ben Isitt, one of the Directors of the Capital Regional District (CRD) has served notice of motion to the CRD Board, calling for a vote to legally expropriate Grace Islet for the public purpose of protecting the burial ground, with fair-market compensation provided to the registered owner under the provisions of the Expropriation Act. That meeting will be take place on August 13.
David J. Rapport, a Salt Spring Island resident, sent this open letter to the Premier of BC:
Dear Premier Clark,
August 11, 2014
On the pressing issue of Grace Islet – I write you as a citizen of Canada, and a resident of Salt Spring Island, as well as a former Senior Scientists and Science Advisor to Statistics Canada, and a current senior advisor to UN agencies and international authorities on a variety of social, economic, cultural, and environmental concerns.
As you well know, Grace Islet, located in Ganges Harbor, is and remains a traditional and well-documented burial site of First Nations peoples. As you are well aware your Minister has permitted the use of this sacred ground for the building of a luxury home on top of the centuries-old First Nations burial site. Even without any additional information you should be aware, from the public outcry, that to allow this activity to continue constitutes an egregious act, an act of utmost disrespect to the First Nations peoples of British Columbia and to First Nations peoples across the land.
Premier Clark, this is happening on your watch – and you have the power to stop it by:
- Sacking your Minister for insensitive and wrongful behavior in allowing this to proceed.
- Withdrawing the permits and bringing the owner to the table to negotiate fair market value for the land, and restoring the land, with respect, to its heritage and spiritual value to the First Nations Peoples of British Columbia.
If you fail to act, you personally (and your government) will have in effect become complicit with a most egregious and disrespectful behavior towards these long oppressed peoples. You would be joining a long line of oppressors – following the atrocities of the residential schools, and all of the hardships that have befallen these peoples, both before and after.
I hope you will heed this plea – and remedy the situation with decency and promptness.
David J. Rapport
Salt Spring Island, V8K2N6