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c̓əsnaʔəm—The province of British Columbia has finally weighed in on the protection of the sacred Musqueam grave site dug up by a condo developer in South Vancouver. But the BC Liberals didn't bother telling the Musqueam.
After more than two months of protests at the site, late last week the provincial government ordered construction permanently halted at the spot where intact burials were discovered. A permit amended by the province orders developer Lan Pro Holdings to return the immediate area where the graves were desecrated to close to their "original condition." It does not refer to the rest of the Marpole Midden, where the condo site is located.
The permit change was announced Friday, but the Musqueam only found out through the media.
"We had no idea until the media calls started pouring in for a reaction. They didn't`t tell any of us, not even the band office. We never did get the press release they sent to everyone else," says Mary Point, who has been active at the site demonstration.
Point says the order is a start, but covers a small part of the development site.
"We need to protect the entire site," she says, adding that it makes no sense to protect one small part but not the entire burial grounds.
The Musqueam have continuously occupied the Midden village for more than 4,000 years. The Musqueam have been trying to negotiate a land swap with the developer since the first graves were disturbed in April.
The province, the city, the developer and the First Nation are now scheduled to meet Tuesday to try to move negotiations along.
Murray Bush is a Vancouver-based photographer and regular contributor to the Vancouver Media Co-op, where a version of this article was originally published.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.