Support the VMC, donate today!
Photos by Rider Cooey
Press Release for Event
Province Extends Permit Expiry Dates to Developers
Musqueam Marks 100 Days with March to Protest Burials Under Threat
c̓əsnaʔəm, Vancouver, B.C., August 7, 2012 - Musqueam First Nation community members have been standing vigil at our ancestral village and burial site of c̓əsnaʔəm, in Marpole, for 100 days this Friday. “This protest is far from over – this Friday we will demonstrate, as we did on Day 1, and call upon the Province to let the permits expire and let Musqueam’s unearthed ancestors rest in peace,” says Cecilia Point, Musqueam community spokesperson.
On December 23, 2011, the B.C. Archaeological Branch issued permits allowing Gary and Fran Hackett and Century Group developers to investigate and disturb a property located on Canada’s national heritage site in Marpole, commonly known as the Marpole Midden. The midden is part of a known Musqueam village, c̓əsnaʔəm – a village studied and excavated by archaeologists since 1880. This most recent investigation resulted in the unearthing of two intact adult remains, two infant remains, and one partial infant. Many broken bones and artifacts, also unearthed, now sit in tubs onsite.
The permits issued were supposed to expire on June 30, 2012. However, the Province has automatically extended the permit dates to the developer three times; the latest extensions expire August 15, 2012. The Musqueam community objects and views the extensions as an attempt to placate the developer under the guise of facilitating negotiations. “These are our ancestors,” says Point. “Their resting place deserves the same respect given to any other citizen. They do not deserve to be unearthed piece by piece.”
The Archaeological Branch is required to consult with Musqueam before issuing the permits and before issuing extensions, yet these permits – and extensions – were issued in the form of an advisory notice.
Since the unearthing of multiple burials, the Archaeological Branch issued one amendment, protecting only a 5 meter by 15 meter area of the unearthed remains on the property – and does nothing to protect the rest of the burial area under threat of development. Every day that passes is another day of damage to our ancestors’ remains. “We can see the nylon tents falling apart in the weather and we are worried about the effects of exposure on the open graves,” says Point.
On Day 100, as on Day 1, Musqueam community members will march from what was once the edge of the village, at 70th and Granville, down to the burial site. “Thousands have signed our petition in support for rescinding these permits – and are invited to join us this Friday as we march for justice,” says Point. “Once at the site, our Musqueam runners will be dispatched – they will carry the petition to the Premier’s office in Vancouver. In delivering this message directly, we call on the Province once again to consider what they would do for their loved ones – and to enforce the protection of our burial site as they would any cemetery.”