May 24, 2014 - 10:24 AM
PENTICTON - The province is working with the Osoyoos Indian Band on an agreement to protect an ancestral burial site found in Haynes Point Provincial Park last month — but the park will close indefinitely starting this fall.
Human remains were found inside the park April 29 and an agreement between the province and the Band was created with the intention of honouring and respecting cultural heritage sites inside the park.
Haynes Point is located in band territory and under the agreement, B.C. Parks and the OIB will work in partnership to ensure long-term protection and management of OIB cultural heritage sites and values in the park. That means after Oct. 1, 2014 the park closes to camping and day-use activities so a full archeological inventory can be completed before winter. The information will help the province and OIB decide how to proceed, but until details are sorted, the park will remain closed.
The immediate need to protect the burial site became a short-term priority for the province and the Band after it was disturbed by a contractor during toilet upgrades. Digging stopped, the toilets were decommissioned and plans are underway to ensure the respectful and culturally appropriate reburial of the OIB ancestal remains in their original resting place.
Any other maintenance work decision will be shared between the province and the OIB for the remainder of camping season. Protocols for park management activities in other parks inside OIB territory will be established.
"Haynes Point Provincial Park is part of s-ooyous," Chief Clarence Louie said in a press release. "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 province and OIB also want to preserve the public's enjoyment of the park and will take measures to ensure visitors can carry on with plans this summer during the park's peak camping season.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014