Nova Scotia

Fight brewing about dam on aboriginal burial ground

First Nations people in Nova Scotia are trying to save an ancient burial ground from a proposed dam near Gaspereau Lake that could flood the 5,000–year-old site.

Nova Scotia Power is planning safety upgrades

First Nations people in Nova Scotia are trying to save an ancient burial ground from a proposed dam near Gaspereau Lake that could flood and destroy the 5,000–year-old site.

According to archeologists, the land around the lake near Kentville was used by Mi’kmaq ancestors to hunt and fish.

Nova Scotia Power owns the controversial land and is planning safety upgrades to the dam.

The utility said it doesn’t have a final plan to reveal yet, but maintained it won’t destroy any cultural significant sites.

"Really the reason for the upgrades is to avoid flooding in the area. It’s to make sure when we have significant rain events we can release the water from the lake in a controlled and safe fashion," said David McGregor, Nova Scotia's Power general manager for technical and construction services.

"There will be some water, but in the areas of cultural significance our excavators have worked with aboriginal people. We have managed to avoid those areas."

But the Annapolis Valley First Nation said the flooding will destroy artifacts that haven’t been removed yet.

Elder Gerald Toney said it's gut-wrenching.

"If we as Mi'kmaq people got together and went digging up a graveyard or a heritage site of the French, the English or any other nationality and the feelings they would get from that is the same way we feel about it," he said.

"What they have done so far, all the stuff they have dug out of here, we want them back. Our ancestors made those things. We want to put up a heritage museum so we can display them to show our history."

Heritage Minister Leonard Preyra said the Special Places Protection Act is being followed at Gaspereau Lake to protect the cultural value of this site and Nova Scotia Power says it is following the act as well.

Mi'kmaq Burial Grounds Research and Restoration Association member Ellen Hunt said the burial ground should be a recognized site.

"I mean you have Louisburg, a French site that's protected. We have lived on this land many, many years before the French came here, why can't we have our heritage and our burial sites protected as well?"

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