GIA’s appeal to save Grace Islet burial site

October, 2014

To Steve Thomson
BC Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

Re: Desecration of the Grace Islet First Nations’ burial site

The Gulf Islands Alliance urges you to halt a private development on Grace Islet (at the mouth of Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring Island) in order to save a First Nations’ burial site from further desecration.

We support the First Nations submission to you that noted the continuation of violations of various permit conditions and local bylaws on the site. As you are aware, staff at the provincial Archaeology Branch confirmed that bulldozer work on the site in 2012 violated the work permit.

Sadly, a permit for further alteration of the site was issued in 2013, leading GIA to agree with archaeologist Eric McLay, who said about Grace Islet: “There is a perceived fundamental discrimination against First Nations peoples in such bureaucratic decisions by the Archaeology Branch—that First Nations people and their deceased ancestors aren’t being treated like human beings, but objects that can just be dug up, bulldozed and built over with no consequences. The message sent to First Nations is that they aren’t equal, that their heritage sites—even their cemeteries—aren’t worth preserving, and don’t deserve respect, even long after death.”

GIA is a non-profit, grassroots group of Gulf Islanders dedicated to supporting the Islands Trust ‘preserve and protect’ mandate, particularly the Trust’s commitment to “identify, preserve, protect and enhance the natural and human heritage of the Trust area” (5.6.1 of the Trust Policy Statement)

Sincerely, Jan Slakov,
Salt Spring representative
Gulf Islands Alliance