The Musqueam First Nation have maintained a 24-hour watch over the Marpole Midden village site for the past 26 days to stop further excavation and removal of ancestral remains. Greenpeace has been down to the Vancouver condo development site several times to stand in solidarity with the Musqueam for a fair and equitable solution. Today, we added our voice more formally by sending a letter to the B.C. government urging them to immediately address the situation confronting the Musqueam First Nation in a manner that brings about a speedy and mutually supportable resolution.
The site, c̓əsnaʔəm or Marpole Midden, along southwest Marine drive in south Vancouver is recognized as a Canadian Heritage Site and contains cultural materials and intact burials of Musqueam people. The Musqueam First Nation maintain Aboriginal Rights and Title to the land although the lot is held in fee simple by another party. A developer is now attempting to dig up the land to build condos and they keep coming across intact remains of Musqueam ancestors. The BC government has issued a permit that will allow the developer to continue their work.
So the Musqueam have set up a vigil and it's been 26 days they have protected their ancestors, 24 hours a day.
The Musqueam have proposed a land swap with the site’s developer to bring a permanent resolution to the issue and to maintain the sanctity of Musqueam burial sites. This proposal requires the support of the provincial government, which despite the appointment of a facilitator has not yet occurred. The proposal represents a significant attempt by the Musqueam to resolve this land issue in a manner that could be broadly supported. So today, we piped up and backed up the Musqueam by requesting the government take the meaningful action necessary to enable a solution that is durable and preserves a village site more than 4,000 years old.
It just makes sense. The preservation of a nation's culture is critical to our history and the appreciation of the ecosystems and lands we coexist with. Even Vancouver's mayor has stopped by to lend support.
Join the Musqueam down at their vigil on site at 1338 SW Marine Drive at the north end of the Arthur Laing Bridge. Check them out on Facebook, sign their petition and consider writing a letter to the BC Minister Steve Thomson yourself (details on Facebook). If you are in Vancouver tomorrow, consider participating in the day of action at 7:30am at 41st and Fraser (cemetary), 1pm at 3615 West 4th Avenue (Premier Clark's constituency office), or 4pm at Robson Square.
Stephanie Goodwin is the B.C. Director for Greenpeace. She is based in Vancouver.