kłałq̓ʷiwas (Cawston, BC), sməlqmix/ Syilx Territory: Today the Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB) announced that they are taking affirmative action on September 11 to ensure the expedited recovery and reburial of desecrated ancestral remains to their original burial grounds. Over 120 people gathered to support LSIB at the Day of Action on the site where approximately 500 exposed bones were recovered over a year and a half ago. To date the Provincial government has failed to enact the Heritage Conservation Act.
Since the original announcement Minister Donaldson of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations has stated that the Province will be moving forward with a Section 34 restoration order. This is the first time this section has been evoked.
Chief Crow announced, “Whether the Province chooses to follow through with their commitments, we are moving forward and standing in action with community support. We are going to finish the recovery on September 11; we are not stopping until our ancestors are reburied.”
LSIB, and the Okanagan Nation, insist that the Province of BC must uphold their own laws and policies through the Heritage Conservation Act and ensure the site is protected and the remains are respectfully reburied.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip followed this stating that “What we hear from the Trudeau government and the incoming provincial NDP government is that they intend to respect and follow through with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, but public platitudes are not good enough. We need to see those expressions of good intentions to translate for the necessary legislative reform, policy reform that will enable us to respect our own laws and our own teachings, and do what we are obligated to do in terms of protecting our land and protecting our people”.
About the Similkameen Ancestral Remains: The burial ground was desecrated on February 29, 2016 and since this time LSIB have not been able to fully recover the remains of our ancestors on the site. LSIB was granted temporary access to collect approximately 500 exposed remains but additional collection is required. In the face of this challenge, an archeological impact assessment permit has not been granted to fully determine the extent of the burial grounds. A year and a half has passed and the government has yet to provide a meaningful solution to the issue.
About Lower Similkameen Indian Band: We, the sməlqmix of the sukwnaquin-x, are a member of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation and are located in the Similkameen Valley. We are committed to preserve our land, culture, and traditions to enhance the quality of life for ourselves and future generations. Our priority is to empower ourselves to build a holistic community that is healthy, self-sufficient, independent and strong.
For further information please contact:
Chief Keith Crow, LSIB