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VIDEO: Boitanio Mall excavation prompts archaeological scrutiny by Williams Lake First Nation

WLFN, Sugar Cane Archaeology, Archer Cultural Resource Management part of overseeing
Williams Lake First Nation members Leo Michel, left, and Marvin Bob, brush the ground with cedar during a ceremony to honour the ancestors at Boitanio Mall where in the early 1970s while the mall was being built an archaeological site was confirmed. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake First Nation is working closely with the excavation crew at Botanio Mall where a new 82-unit housing complex will be constructed on the upper level.

The nation is there to make sure any potential archaeological remains are preserved because during the initial construction of the mall in 1974, an archaeological site containing house pits (kikwillies), cache pits and a large number of human burials were discovered.

At the time, approximately 13 disarticulated human skeletons were unearthed and transported via truck to the site of what is now the A&W in Williams Lake where they were discarded and pushed over the embankment, said WLFN.

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, the community’s leadership and elders held a ceremony to honour the ancestors at the mall.

“The more that we make it the norm to stand beside each other as non-Indigenous and Indigenous alike, acknowledging our ceremony and holding up our culture and our nation the quicker we’re going to get to that reconciliation discussion which we continue to talk about as a country,” said WLFN Chief Sellars after the ceremony.

Representatives from WLFN, Sugar Cane Archaeology and Archer Cultural Resource Management are on site during the excavation.

Whitney Spearing, senior manager title and rights for WLFN, said the area being excavated for a sewer pipe repair does cross through a recorded archaeological site.

“All of the material that comes out of the site will be screened 100 per cent and we will pick out anything that is archaeological or potential human remains,” Spearing said.

Eric Van Tankeren of Janda Group, the mall’s owner, said when they scanned the pipes they found the main sewer pipe was broken.

“We have to replace it and have been waiting a year to do this because of archaeological issues that are involved,” Van Tankeren said, adding the repair should be completed in one week.

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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