May 22, 2014 - 3:52 PM
OSOYOOS - A new agreement between the Province and the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) will honour and respect the OIB cultural heritage sites and values within Haynes Point Provincial Park, including the recently disturbed OIB ancestral remains and burial site.
Under the agreement, BC Parks and the OIB will work in partnership to ensure the long-term protection and management of the OIB cultural heritage sites and values in the park, which falls within the Band's traditional territory.
In the short-term, the parties are working collaboratively to respectfully manage and protect the OIB burial site that was disturbed by excavation activities on April 29, 2014. Toilet facilities at the burial site have been permanently decommissioned.
Planning is underway to ensure the respectful and culturally appropriate reburial of the OIB ancestral remains in their original resting place.
"This is an opportunity for the Province to work in partnership with the Osoyoos Indian Band to rectify this unfortunate occurrence," said Environment Minister Mary Polak. "Together we can move forward in a way that honours and respects this culturally important area. The Province applauds the OIB for showing
consideration to park visitors."
The parties are making shared decisions about any other maintenance work needed in the park for the remainder of the camping season, as well as establishing protocols for park management activities in other parks within the OIB's traditional territory.
"Haynes Point Provincial Park is part of s-ooyous," said Chief Clarence Louie.
"The area is a historically and culturally significant place to the Osoyoos Indian Band. I would never expect to see a toilet or campground built over non-native gravesites. That is common sense. Our gravesites are not open to negotiation. I am pleased the Province is committed to working with the Osoyoos Indian Band to honour and respect our ancestor's gravesite. We are confident that this new agreement with the Province will secure the long-term protection of our cultural heritage sites and values at s-ooyous."
The parties recognize that Haynes Point Provincial Park is a popular destination for park visitors, and that campsites and reservations are in high demand. BC Parks and the OIB share the objective of ensuring park visitors carry on with their plans to visit the park for the duration of the park's peak camping season.
The agreement between the OIB and the Province will see Haynes Point Provincial Park closed to camping and day-use activities effective October 1, 2014 until further notice. This will allow for a full archaeological inventory prior to winter, and for the Province and the OIB to work in partnership on decisions regarding how best to manage the park to protect important cultural heritage sites and values going forward.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014