First Nations Chiefs Say Site C Highway Route Will Desecrate Graves, BC Hydro Disagrees
By Sarah Cox | Thursday, November 24, 2016
The route chosen by BC Hydro for a Site C dam highway relocation will “desecrate” a First Nations burial ground and destroy a culturally significant site used by the Dunne-za people for millennia, says West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson.
“This is a very serious matter,” Willson wrote in a letter to B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone, co-signed by Prophet River First Nation Chief Lynette Tsakoza. “Digging up graves is not acceptable in our custom.”
Willson told DeSmog that the graves are in an area of the Peace River valley known locally as Bear Flats/Cache Creek, which BC Hydro plans to clear cut this winter for the first phase of a $530 million project to move 30 kilometres of a provincial highway out of the Site C dam flood zone.
Called as tluuge by the Dunne-za, or Beaver people, an ethno-linguistic grouping within the Treaty 8 Tribal Association, the area slated for the first part of the highway realignment contains known B.C. archaeological sites, a natural spring, a sweat lodge, and a campground used by First Nations for elder and youth gatherings.
“The Dunne-Za people have been using Bear Flats for thousands of years and we’re still using it today,” Willson said in an interview.
“The desecration of burial sites is a very serious matter. There’s absolutely no reason for them to disrupt those graves. They can move the highway over.”
According to BC Hydro itself, the Bear Flats/Cache Creek area is classified as an “archeological site complex,” an area noted for its high density of archeological sites.
Eighteen archeological sites at the Bear Flats/Cache complex will be affected by the $8.8 billion Site C project, including four Class 1 sites and 10 Class 11 sites.
In July 2015, BC Hydro received an eight-year permit from the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) to “alter” 163 archeological sites for Site C, including for the construction of permanent roads, clearing, surface stripping, excavations and inundation from the reservoir. The permit says all work must cease if human remains are found and the Archaeology Branch must be contacted for further direction.
In a statement e-mailed to DeSmog, BC Hydro said it has undertaken “extensive archeological fieldwork including extensive subsurface shovel testing” and has not found “any specific burial locations that would be directly affected by the Highway 29 alignment” at Bear Flats/Cache Creek….
Read the rest of this article at DeSmog.ca
Learn more about “Site Alteration Permits” and the systematic destruction/dismantling of Indigenous heritage landscapes in British Columbia: