The Province is partnering with local First Nations and the Nature Conservancy of Canada on long-term conservation for Grace Islet, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson said today.
Grace Islet, a privately owned property off Saltspring Island, has special cultural and spiritual significance for local First Nations and contains at least 16 burial cairns. Building construction on the islet ceased on Dec. 18, 2014.
Through a partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which acquires properties with strong ecological values, a framework agreement to purchase has been reached with the landowner. In addition to its cultural significance as a burial site, Grace Islet is ecologically valuable for its plant communities, intertidal habitat and as a small component of the rare Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem.
If final negotiations close successfully, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, local First Nations, other interested parties and the Province will work together on a remediation and future management plan for the islet.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations −
“It can sometimes be challenging to balance the need to protect archaeological sites while respecting private property rights. I want to thank all parties for agreeing to work together on a solution.”
Linda Hannah, B.C. Regional vice-president, Nature Conservancy of Canada −
“The Nature Conservancy of Canada is honoured to be part of a solution that will see the protection and conservation of the significant cultural heritage and ecological values on Grace Islet. We look forward to working with the Province and First Nations on restoring and stewarding this very special place.”
William Seymour, Chief, Cowichan Tribe −
“I’m glad we were able to respectfully reach an agreement through negotiations. The partnership that was created to see this through means a great deal to our people in the view that our chiefs and the government were able to unite and reach a resolution. Most importantly, the ancestors at our sacred burial sites are able to rest peacefully as a result of our collective perseverance.”
Vern Jacks, Chief, Tseycum First Nation −
“Our ancestors can now rest in peace on Grace Islet. Tseycum appreciates the hard work of the Province, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the landowner in resolving the situation.”
- The Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem is a globally rare ecosystem found on southeastern Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, parts of the Fraser Valley and the Sunshine Coast.
- Totally only 256,800 hectares, the majority of this ecosystem, is on private land.
- The Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem is home to the highest number of species-at-risk in B.C., many of which are ranked globally as imperilled or critically imperilled.
Nature Conservancy of Canada, BC Region: www.natureconservancy.ca/bc
Archaeology Branch: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/archaeology/
Ministry of Forests, Lands
and Natural Resource Operations