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Archaeologist: Trans Mountain pipeline threatens at least 67 historic sites

Last Updated Sep 16, 2020 at 2:20 am PDT

KAMLOOPS (CityNews) — A Kamloops archaeologist says Canada will face a major loss as about 67 historical sites could be destroyed to make way for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

Archeologist Joanne Hammond says Canada is facing a significant cultural loss as the pipeline project goes ahead, adding she worries this is just the beginning.

“That sends a message that Indigenous history doesn’t matter very much to the Canadian story,” she tells CityNews.

Hammond explains she started to notice red flags when the province sent applications to consult with those impacted on Crown land.

“We’re looking at permission to alter about 70 sites in the area just around Kamloops where there is a fair amount of new line being built. They are proposing mitigation for some those sites … in archeology speak it usually means excavating and getting those sites out of the way.”

Jeanette Jules is a councillor with one of the bands whose land will be affected by the expansion. She says they have not approved any site to be destroyed, but they are working with TMX.

“Chief and council with consultation with our knowledge keepers, have not decided how mitigation will happen. And we’ve also had conversations with us [our bands] through SSN about what is mitigatable and what is un-mitigatable.”

As far as what’s actually on theses sites, Hammond says we still don’t exactly know.

“They’re all pre-contact Indigenous archeological sites that range from isolated lithic artifacts to more intensely occupied campsites,” she says. “Frankly there is not a lot of information on the sites. A lot of them are fairly newly discovered as a result of the pipeline construction.”

In a statement on behalf of the province, Tyler Hooper says, “In this case, 17 archaeological sites will have some level of expanded archaeological investigation prior to construction proceeding.”

“As with all permit applications, the Province consults with First Nations in advance of a decision about whether or not to issue a permit.

The chief executive of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion announced Tuesday it’s about 15 per cent complete and it’s expected to be at 30 per cent by the end of the year.