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First Nations Leadership Council congratulates Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout and Tseycum regarding the purchase of Grace Islet

"The BC Heritage Conservation Act is woefully inadequate in protecting our ancestors’ remains," says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout and Tseycum. Agreement Grace Islet.
Photo of Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (by Mychaylo Prystupa) and Grace Islet (by Larissa Sayer via Flickr)

First Nations Leadership Council congratulates Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout and Tseycum in reaching an agreement regarding the purchase of Grace Islet

Last Thursday, a partnership between Saanich First Nations, the BC Government and the Nature Conservancy of Canada was announced, which would allow the purchase of Grace Islet, a well-known burial site of high-ranking First Nations people, according to a press release.  Grace Islet is an important site to the impacted First Nations which saw the desecration of the burial site by an owner that was developing the site for residential use. The FNLC commends all parties involved in reaching this significant agreement that will ensure the site is protected.

“Across BC, First Nations have and continue to work to protect sites of cultural and spiritual significance within our traditional territories,” stated Board Member for the BC Assembly of First Nations Chief Maureen Chapman. “This planned partnership to support the long-term conservation of Grace Islet would not have been possible without the perseverance of Saanich First Nations, who united and were steadfast in their determination that a solution could be found despite a challenging situation where private property rights collided with Aboriginal rights.”

Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit political executive says, “We commend all of the parties that worked long and hard to get this agreement done.  However it has unfortunately been another example where development has taken a priority over the preservation of an important First Nations cultural site. Governments and developers must understand and recognize that cultural sites such as Grace Islet are sacred to our people. These sites represent our history and are cultural anchors that connect our communities to our past, present and future.”

President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip added, “We congratulate all parties involved, however the Province must do more in protecting First Nations burial sites.  The BC Heritage Conservation Act is woefully inadequate in protecting our ancestors’ remains.  Grace Islet as well as other significant sites around BC will continue to be desecrated and destroyed without significant amendments to the BC Heritage Conservation Act or successful implementation of section 4 of the Act which would allow for First Nations to manage heritage sites within their territories.”

The First Nations Leadership Council is comprised of the political executives of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

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