While construction work has come to a halt, protesters are still keeping an around-the-clock watch on the property. This morning, passing vehicles offered a steady stream of supportive honks as around 15 demonstrators waved signs, cheered, and beat drums next to the fenced-off lot. Some drivers slowed to chat with protesters and pick up informational pamphlets.
Cecilia Point, a Musqueam First Nation member, said the goal of the protest is to raise awareness and keep an eye on the site. The demonstrators plan to stay put indefinitely, she said.
“We want this whole block to be a respectful burial ground so we want to have a nice greenspace, maybe some interpretive signage,” Point told the Straight.
“We want it respected like a burial ground…and open to the public.”
Solen Roth, a University of B.C. anthropology student, also visited the site today to show support, holding a sign as she stood with the protesters.
“I’d like to believe that we live in a society that cares for people’s ancestors, whether they’re ours or those of other people,” Roth told the Straight.
“Most of all I think what’s important is that the outcome is satisfactory to the Musqueam people. They’re the main stakeholders here,” she said.
Steve Thomson, the provincial lands minister, said the government has appointed a facilitator to work with the Musqueam, the property owner, and the City of Vancouver to try and find a solution.
“We recognize the significance of it [the site], and we've been engaged with all parties for a number of months now, looking towards a longer-term, workable solution. We'll continue to do that,” Thomson said yesterday in the legislature.
“What's more important and equally important to recognize is that the intact [human] remains remain on site, have not been removed. Work has stopped where the remains are while we continue to work for a long-term, workable solution,” he said.
Thomson’s remarks came as a group of Musqueam members visited the legislature to raise awareness about the issue.
During the debate in legislature, the New Democrat Opposition also took aim at the Liberal government.
“The Liberals claim to recognize the significance of this site. Well, if they truly recognize the significance of this site, I wonder why they allowed a condo to be built on a national historic site?” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, a Vancouver NDP MLA.
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