Thursday, July 10, 2014

Think about Grace Islet as a paddler!

Grace Islet is a small rocky island with scrubby short trees, found in Ganges Harbour. It's a funeral island, a traditional graveyard for the Coast Salish people. I wish I could show you the photo I took from the water while paddling there, but it's on my phone and inaccessible at present... At least I can share what I wrote on the blog about this lovely little island back in 2011:

Just outside the breakwater is Grace Island, with a shell beach that's exposed at low tide. So neat to look at the tons of crumbling shell and realize that people have been eating clams and oysters here since before the Pyramids were built in Egypt!

John and Louise have paddled past this little island, on their kayaking vacation in April 2012.  Alison saw it from the shore of Ganges Harbour on her kayaking vacation in 2012, but didn't get to paddle around it like the rest of us.
Here's a photo from the Grace Islet Community page on Facebook!

Now there's a new plan by the owner of the island to build a house there, right among the First Nations traditional burial cairns and open sites. While he does intend to build it on stilts over the remains, a house would cover most of this little islet. These house-building plans have inspired the formation of the Grace Islet Community to call for protected status for this island as a historical First Nations gravesite. You can find out more about the Grace Islet Community at their Facebook Page. Today, their members were speaking at a board meeting of the Capital Regional District at noon. Personally, I wrote to the CRD already on this issue because I am a volunteer naturalist for the CRD, saying briefly:
I have paddled around Grace Islet with my kayak. I respect this traditional place and urge you to preserve it as a historical site, a graveyard, a bird sanctuary, or whatever legislation will keep it unspoiled by the misuse of the current construction project.
thank you,
Paula Johanson
CRD volunteer

Update -- Good News! Grace Islet Community has updated their page with the news that the CRD board has unanimously passed a motion saying:
HEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Capital Regional District Board requests that the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resources Operations Archaeology Branch suspend the Alteration Permit issued for Grace Islet, Saltspring Island Electoral Area, to allow consultation and negotiations to proceed between First Nations, the Provincial government and the landowner to ensure protection of this First Nations cultural heritage site. AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Capital Regional District Board direct staff to convene an inter-governmental meeting in the autumn of 2014 with representatives of First Nations, the Archaeology Branch, the Islands Trust and the CRD to restore trust and identify specific improvements to development approval procedures that will increase protection of First Nations cultural heritage sites within the Capital Region.
And you can write to your local MLA if you have an opinion of your own. Since we paddlers are some of the people who pass by this little island and enjoy it without damaging it, we can be good neighbours who can speak to our government representatives about how to manage it as a responsible community.

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