Grace Islet’s Salvation is in sight. Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource, announced the Province is partnering with local First Nations and the Nature Conservancy of Canada to preserve the First Nations burial site. Though negotiations with the owner have not concluded, many are are celebrating a victory.
Barry Slawsky’s lawyer filed a notice of discontinuance from his legal suit against the defenders of Grace Islet. It is clear the brief occupation of the Islet cannot be dismissed as a simple case of trespass. First Nations leaders view this situation as blatant racism on the part of the BC Government, which has refused to protect one of their ancestral burial islets because Slawsky had a building permit.
As you can hear in the video below, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs passed a resolution in support of Grace Islet Burial site. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip made the announcement at a demonstration at the provincial legislature, in Victoria, yesterday. He said the vote was unanimous.
Some might call it trespassing. Others will ask who was trespassing? The 38 people who landed on Grace Islet today? The government that sold a First Nations burial ground without consulting with the previous owners? Or Barry Slawsky, the Alberta businessman who purchased this islet and, fully aware that it is a burial islet, is now erecting a house there?
The photo above, and videos below, were all taken during a blockade of Grace Islet, on Salt Spring Island, on August 1. Grace Islet is a recognized First Nations burial islet but, thanks to a series of beaurocratic foul-ups, it was zoned residential and a house is being built there. This would not be allowed if those were European graves, but this is British Columbia and the burials are First Nations.