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  • “The land never fails in its beauty and its essence to take my breath away and calm me like nothing else can. I forget the breakdown of our name for it but I know and feel that we as sqilxw, as Syilx people are connected to it. As relatives we are born from it. We have parts of the land within our blood, our bodies, the rocks as minerals, the water our life blood that flows through our veins, the air the oxygen, the wind our breath, you name it, it is there within us as a reminder. Our captikwt remind us of our responsibilities and roles we have as sqilxw among the land. I cherish it all and keep it close to my heart. - Brandy Baptiste”

Sməlqmix Ancestral Remains

The Issue

On the evening of February 29th, 2016, a local orchardist in Cawston, BC, was excavating a knoll on a terrace edge when work was halted due to the remains of at least two persons observed by the machine operators. The private landowner called the RCMP, who then notified the Archeology Branch, coroner and Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB). The coroner determined the remains were ancestral in nature. LSIB Chief Keith Crow, staff, cultural leaders, archaeologist Meghan Fisher and RCMP attended the site on March 1, 2016 to assess the impacted area.

Under the guidance of the elders and Chief the remains were collected for safekeeping (under temperature-controlled conditions) to prevent further damage. We were not able to fully gather the remains of our ancestors from the site.

Over a year and a half has passed since these remains were unearthed, with a complete lack of meaningful dialogue and lack of solutions that would address the urgent need to properly deal with these ancestral remains.

Moving Forward

Since this time LSIB has kept with traditional Syilx sməlqmix governance and protocols, working tirelessly to respectfully address the disturbances of ancestral remains.

LSIB recognizes it as our sacred responsibility that the remains, both those that have been able to be collected and those that continue to be exposed on at the burial site, must be reburied in a respectful and timely manner. As recovery and repatriation of the ancestral burials has not moved forward in any meaningful way, action must now be taken to protect our ancestors and honor our inherent responsibilities.

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.

Ancestral Remains Day of Action

Open letter on LSIB Burial Ground -George Nicholas