British Columbia

Musqueam stop construction at Marpole Midden again

Work has stopped again a construction site in South Vancouver after members of the Musqueam First Nation turned out to protest the development at the ancient site.
Musqueam First Nation members and their supporters turned out to stop construction at the Marpole Midden on Tuesday morning. (CBC)

Work has stopped again at a construction site in South Vancouver after members of the Musqueam First Nation turned out in force to protest the development at the ancient village and burial site.

The protesters were called out after band members, who have been keeping a round-the-clock watch on the site, spotted a construction worker starting up some digging equipment Tuesday morning.

Police soon arrived and negotiated a cooling-off period and work on the site was halted once again.

The Musqueam First Nation is seeking to stop the construction of the condo development on the 1300 block of S.W. Marine Drive because they say it is threatening a 3,000-year-old aboriginal village and burial ground.

The band does not own the land and the condominium development has been approved by the province and the City of Vancouver. The private owner says the land has been in his family for more than 50 years and has already been disturbed by previous buildings on the site.

But Musqueam Chief Ernie Campbell said prior development at the site is not a rationale for continuing developement.

"They say, 'Oh, it's disturbed before, so that's no problem.' I say 'Hey, because you beat the crap out of your wife last night, doesn't give you the right to do it again tonight?'"

In late January, intact human remains were discovered during the course of archaeological work being undertaken by the developer. Six lots are at the centre of the controversy and work was stopped on the one lot where the remains were found.

Development work is supposed to continue on the other five with an archaeologist in daily contact with Musqueam authorities, but last month protesters blocked bulldozers from entering the site.

In order to stop the development and build a park and memorial at the site, the band has offered to cover the cost of swapping the land for another parcel with the owner, but the band has been unable to get the province to sign-off on such a deal.

The Marpole Midden was designated a National Historic Site in 1933 because it is one of the largest pre-contact archaeological sites on the Pacific Coast of Canada.