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MUSQUEAM TERRITORY - Excavation for a condo project has been halted at an ancient Musqueam burial site. Members of the Musqueam First Nation packed up their around-the-clock blockade at the site last night.
The chief and band council met Tuesday with the condo developer and property owner as well as representatives from the province and City of Vancouver. The sides agreed last night to a three-week negotiation period.
Musqueam spokesperson Aaron Wilson said the interim agreement includes a pledge from the developer that there will be no digging during the period that could possibly disturb any of the burials. In return, he said, "we agreed to move forward to negotiations and stopped the protest at the site (Wednesday) night." He said the talks "will look at possible ways to make sure everybody is happy," adding that, "to most of our community members that means getting the land back and protecting it."
The protest started on Monday after the Musqueam learned of developer plans to dig up the burial site, despite already finding at least one intact burial. The proposed condo development is on part of the c̓əsnaʔəm (Marpole) Midden and Village site - a site occupied by the Musqueam for more than 4,000 years. The Musqueam retain Aboriginal title and rights to the land, which is 'owned' by developer Gary Hackett. Excavation for condos went ahead at the site after the developer was granted an archaeology permit from the provincial government.
Wilson said news of the temporary halt left people protesting at the construction site "overjoyed - happy that our voice was heard and that our concerns are being taken more seriously." He added that while they are optimistic, they will remain concerned "until there is a more permanent solution."
more info: Stop the Destruction