August 12, 2014 1:00 am

Island residents angry over plans to build a luxury home over First Nations burial ground

WATCH ABOVE: Opposition builds to a luxury home being built on Native burial grounds near Salt Spring. Kylie Stanton has more.

VANCOUVER – Residents of Salt Spring Island are outraged with plans to build a luxury home over a First Nations burial ground on Grace Islet.

It is less than a hectare in size, but Grace Islet is recognized as an ancient burial site under the Provincial Heritage Conservation Act but because the remains date back before 1846, it does not receive the same protection as a cemetery.

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That means the owner, Edmonton businessman Barry Slawsky, can move forward with construction despite the community’s concerns.

“I’m wondering what they’ve done with those people,” said August Sylvester, Penelakut Elder. “My people.”

According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, permit conditions require the cairns to remain untouched.

At the end of July archaeology branch staff confirmed the sites are intact.

But protesters say the blueprints should never have been drawn up.

“Fixing a mistake after its been made is never as easy as avoiding a mistake,” said Elizabeth May, Saanich-Gulf Island MP. “But it’s not too late.”

Now local officials are ready to intervene.

Slawsky could not be reached today and his lawyer declined to comment on the matter. But until the land is expropriated, it remains private property.

“I hope they listen,” said Sylvester. “All I want for them is to listen.”

- With files from Kylie Stanton

© Shaw Media, 2014

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