Nixed bill worries Saulteau First Nation


Photo:  Elder Ronnie Letender shows a ‘petroglyph’ artifact found on Treaty 8 Land – Submitted.

A decision in Victoria might threaten some newly-found artifacts in a Peace Region First Nation Reserve.

Late in October, Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis introduced a bill called the First Nations Heritage Protection and Conservation Act. The bill’s main goal was to provide more protection for cultural sites. It would have established protection options and tools for First Nations, for newly-found culturally-significant sites.

But, on November 3rd, the Speaker of the House,  Bill Barisoff, said the proposal was out of order. He said it would have required ‘expenditure of public funds’ and therefore is out of the hands of the private member who submitted it, the NDP’s Maurine Karagianis…

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The Saulteau First Nations is expressing its concern. The band recently discovered some interesting artifacts on the Saulteau land.

Spokesperson Earlene Bitterman says a proposed wind development project threatens the site, and without Bill M203, it’s unknown what could happen to the unidentified artifacts.

Bitterman says some recent discoveries, including rocks with writing on them, and another rock that appears to have been carved to resemble a human skeleton, suggest past cultural activity in the area.

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In a statement released by the Saulteau First Nations, Chief Harley Davis says "We need this area protected for its cultural significance to preserve the indigenous history for future generations. We support Bill M203, as it provides assistance in heritage protection and we hope the government reconsiders its reintroduction."

This was the third time that Karagianis introduced the bill, though she says she may try again.

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She says the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs also has interest in getting the government to deal with the issue.

For a copy of Bill M203, Click Here.


Photo: Spokesperson Earlene Bitterman says this rock could have been enhanced by past human activity – Submitted.