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Protection for burial site

A new agreement between the province and the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) will honour and respect the OIB cultural heritage sites and values at Haynes Point Provincial Park, including the recently disturbed OIB ancestral remains and burial site.

Under the agreement, BC Parks and the OIB will work in partnership to ensure the longterm protection and management of the OIB sites, which falls within the band's traditional territory.

"This is an opportunity for the province to work in partnership with the Osoyoos Indian Band to rectify this unfortunate occurrence," said Environment Minister Mary Polak. "Together we can move forward in a way that honours and respects this culturally important area. The province applauds the OIB for showing consideration to park visitors."

In the short-term, the parties are working collaboratively to manage and protect the OIB burial site that was disturbed by excavation activities on April 29, 2014. Toilet facilities  at the site have been permanently decommissioned.

Planning is also underway to ensure the appropriate reburial of the OIB ancestral remains in their original resting place.

OIB Chief Clarence Louie said the park is a culturally significant place to the Osoyoos Indian Band.

"I would never expect to see a toilet or campground built over non-native grave sites. That is common sense," he said. "Our grave sites are not open to negotiation. I am pleased the province is committed to working with the Osoyoos Indian Band to honour and respect our ancestor's grave site. We are confident that this new agreement with the province will secure the long-term protection of our cultural heritage sites and values at s-ooyous."

The two parties share the objective of ensuring park visitors carry on with their plans to visit the park for the duration of its peak camping season.

So the closing date for camping and day use will be Oct. 1, 2014, until further notice.

This will allow for a full archeological inventory prior to winter and for the province and the OIB to work in partnership on decisions regarding how best to manage the park to protect the sites going forward.

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